Jose Mourinho claimed he has 'considered staying on' as Real Madrid coach and defended himself against Pepe's belief that he should show club captain Iker Casillas more respect.
Last week the former Chelsea manager gave the strongest indication yet that he wanted to return to the Premier League at the end of the season by saying: "I want to be where I am loved. In England I am loved by the press, the fans, I am loved by some clubs, especially one."
The 50-year-old followed that up with a confrontational press conference in which he criticised Casillas, hinting that, in his opinion, the goalkeeper "thinks he is above the rest" of the squad. He also remarked that his biggest regret in his three years at the Bernabeu was not signing Diego Lopez, who is now his first-choice goalkeeper, at the end of his first season in charge.
Those comments heightened speculation over his future and seemed to be a further indication that he was on his way out. However, in a press conference ahead of the Primera Division clash with Malaga, the Portuguese was again coy on his future - and even suggested he has not ruled out remaining in the Spanish capital.
He said: "I have considered staying on."
Reports in Spain had accused Mourinho of involving himself in public spats with key players in a bid to force the board to sack him and hand him a pay-off. However, he denied those claims, saying: "I will only earn money until the last day I work here. I don't want a single euro more."
Mourinho's criticism of Casillas led to centre-back Pepe speaking out against the coach after Madrid's 4-3 win over Real Valladolid at the Bernabeu on Saturday.
"The boss' comments weren't appropriate. Iker is a legend, both at this club and in Spain, and he deserves more respect," the defender said.
Mourinho's response was to accuse his fellow countryman of sour grapes after losing his place in the side to 19-year-old Raphael Varane.
"It's very easy to analyse what Pepe said. His problem has a name - it is Raphael Varane," the coach said. "We are talking about frustration. It's never easy for a 31-year-old to be rolled over by a boy of 19 years of age."