In it together

Angel Di Maria will be key, says Hunter

Last Updated: 22/08/12 8:06am

Jose Mourinho has a united squad behind him as Real Madrid aim to retain the La Liga title, Graham Hunter told Revista.

"Mourinho's shown a great deal of faith in the squad and augmented his overall control."

Graham Hunter

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Mourniho's side smashed various records last season en route to a commanding title success and Hunter believes the Portguese, who signed a new contract this summer, has his players fighting for him once again this term.

"Last season Mourinho united the players and made them a fighting force," said Hunter.

"They were playing for him and the doubters came on side. He's now brought them a trophy, changed his manner in the way he talks to the players and about the players and, with the signing of the new contract, any doubters know he's there for the long term.

"They've also seen him control the transfer market. He's shown a great deal of faith in the squad and augmented his overall control. His situation is unique in Madrid's history."

However, Guillem Balague pointed out Mourinho's record does not show success in the third season at a club, with the 'Special One' either departing for pastures new, as he did at Porto, or failing to bring success in year three, as he did at Chelsea.

"Jose Mourinho is a very demanding man who wants 120% from his team and that's a rope that you push to one side but sometimes it breaks," said Guillem.

"I wonder if the players are as competitive and as committed as they were last season. This group of players are loyal to him - not devoted, not in love. There's a difference there which, with the time to progress, we may see on the pitch."

Angel admiration

Real kicked off their campaign with a 1-1 draw at home to Valencia. Gonzalo Higuain found the net for the hosts, supplied by Angel Di Maria and Hunter believes the Argentine will be a key man for Real this term.

"I'm a fan of his technique and I'm a fan of the way he's developed at Madrid," said Hunter.

"He's overcome his injury and was the top scorer in pre-season. Watching this match it's clear to see he's as creative as ever, he distributes the ball well, is timing his runs into the box well and I think they've got a player who is absolutely world class and will be in the top three this season. He's exciting to watch and lifts the team."

However, Terry Gibson said he was disappointed Madrid didn't make more additions this summer: "I'm surprised they haven't made a major signing because from a position of strength, having won the league, they should look to improve.

"We all know the player they're waiting for [Luka Modric] but I'm surprised they've not gone for others to liven it up."