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Santiago Bernabéu's jeers will soon turn to cheers

Some Madrid fans vented their frustrations at the players at the Bernabeu during Saturday's victory against Depor but, just as before, Ancelotti's men can turn those whistles into applause.

Denis Doyle/Getty Images

There was a certain irony to the illuminated advert racing around the electronic boards surrounding the Santiago Bernabeu pitch while Real Madrid played out their 2-0 victory over Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday.

German sportswear giant Adidas had taken on Madrid stars Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and James Rodriguez, alongside Barcelona's Luis Suarez, to be part of their latest advertising campaign, aptly named, with hashtag, #therewillbehaters. Little did they know those haters would be whistling down on their own players.

While Bale had arguably his best performance in months for Madrid, Benzema got on the scoresheet and James was absent through injury, a section of the 80,000 packed inside the Bernabeu vented their frustrations from the drama of the previous weekend down on a number of Madrid's stars.

Iker Casillas, owing to his error in Tiago's opener in the 4-0 derby demolition against Atletico Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo, owing to the party he held for his 30th birthday just hours after that loss, and Carlo Ancelotti, the man who presided over it all, were all targets for those Madridistas who believed enough was enough.

The pressure had built throughout the week in Spain owing to the columns, pages, front pages and hours of television coverage dedicated to the humiliating loss against Diego Simeone's side, the sixth time Madrid had failed to beat their neighbours from as many games this season, and the pictures and videos of Madrid players having a whale of a time at Ronaldo's big bash just hours after their biggest defeat of the season had sent Madrid fans into hiding in the Spanish capital.

The pressure had built - but it didn't need to. Rightly or wrongly, the whistles may not be the rule in the surroundings of the Bernabeu, but they certainly aren't the exception. Ancelotti's men may have still sat top of La Liga going into the weekend win over Depor, but if Ronaldo and company did not expect a backlash from a home support they acknowledge to be demanding, then they were naive.

That is not to say it's right for fans to whistle their own players, but the timing matters. Casillas came out on Monday and said the fans are "always right" and they had every right to vent their frustrations at the players - they pay their money after all. But to whistle in the middle of a crucial match, a match that could have a big impact on the title race, could have been a case of supporters cutting off their nose to spite their face.

Back in September, again after a defeat against Atleti but one that backed on to another loss at Real Sociedad, the whistles were again at fever pitch. At Casillas, again, and at Benzema. Not only were the whistles audible before kick-off as the names were read out and when each player touched the ball, they were audible as the Frenchman lined up to shoot and try and give his team and the crowd something to cheer about. A case in point of fans cutting off their nose to spite their face.

Madrid's No.1 eventually won those fans over with a superb save to deny Derlis Gonzalez, while Benzema grabbed the final goal in a 5-1 thumping that set Madrid on course for 22 straight wins. The jeers turned to cheers in the space of 90 minutes.

The demands are high at Madrid - they are huge. Above all else, Madrid are a club that has to win and by raining whistles down on the players the fans are doing the team no favours. Perhaps the feeling was that the fans, and there the team, could get away with it against a side such as Deportivo who, with respect, were not expected to take anything back up to Galicia from their efforts in the Spanish capital. In the end they did just that.

The players too have to take on board the high level of expectancy that is placed on their shoulders when they pull on the famous white shirt. Bale, Benzema, Casillas, Illarramendi and Ronaldo are not the first players to be on the end of the infamous Bernabeu whistles and they certainly won't be the last. It's an unwanted part of the deal that if your form dips you'll know about it from your own supporters when you put pen-to-paper on a move to Real Madrid but that is part of the fabric. It helps keep the team on their toes and it ensures players, those strong enough to flourish as a Madrid player, grow and don't flounder.

The weekend whistles were part of a frustration that had built up on the back of high standards that were already set in stone at the club and on the back of a seemingly unstoppable 22-game winning run that came crashing down after the turn of the year, both results-wise and performance-wise. It all came to a head at the Calderon.

The 2-0 victory over Victor Fernandez's men, albeit far from dominating and enlightening, stopped the rot. Now Madrid can start to turn those jeers into cheers with the business end of the season approaching, starting in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

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