Real Madrid back beleaguered Schuster

MADRID - Real Madrid gave their backing to coach Bernd Schuster and his squad on Monday after a poor run of form had led to speculation over the German's future. "The club have complete confidence in the players and the coaching staff," sports director Predrag Mijatovic told a news conference. "We took a tough decision to get rid of Fabio Capello and bring in Bernd Schuster a year ago and we were proved right as he had a great campaign to win the league title. We continue to be happy with his work and the players we have. "We have one of the best squads in Europe and we are confident we can still achieve at least one of our objectives for this season." Real are fourth in the standings, five points behind leaders and arch-rivals Barcelona after 11 matches and lie second in Champions League Group H behind Juventus, with six points from four games. Schuster has been criticised by fans and local media for a string of below-par performances that kicked off with the 2-1 Champions League defeat away to Juventus last month and continued with the 2-0 home reverse against the same side. An embarrassing exit from the King's Cup at the hands of Segunda B (third tier) Real Union on away goals last week, after drawing 6-6 on aggregate set the alarm bells ringing. Saturday's 1-0 defeat to struggling Real Valladolid set local media speculating over Schuster's future at the helm. Added to Real's problems have been a string of injuries the worst of which saw Schuster's most effective striker Ruud van Nistelrooy ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury last week. Defender Pepe, midfielders Arjen Robben, Ruben de la Red and Mahamadou Diarra are all sidelined and have revealed a lack of depth in the squad. Mijatovic called for patience. "It is my role to ask for some calm because there still remain a lot of games in front of us," he said. "We are looking at reinforcements for attacking midfield and striking positions and I am sure we can land someone be it in January or at the end of the season."