Real Madrid defender Pepe expected the jeers that came from sections of the club’s supporters at the Santiago Bernabeu in Wednesday’s 3-1 win over Real Sociedad.
Rafael Benitez earned a much-needed win amid renewed questions over his future as Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice along with Lucas Vazquez to help Madrid sign off 2015 with an unconvincing win.
Sections of the Bernabeu crowd whistled after Ronaldo missed his first penalty while jeers rang round when Bruma equalised for the visitors early in the second half.
But the Portuguese says the fans had every right to voice their disapproval at a lacklustre display.
“The crowd got behind us. It’s to be expected that they complained when we dropped our intensity a little bit in the second half, coinciding with Real Sociedad’s goal,” Pepe told reporters.
“The fans call the shots and we respect that. It’s down to us to play, do our job and honour the shirt that we pull on, so as to ensure we send the fans away happy.
“The main thing was to get the win. We’re keeping on working hard and improving in every game.
“We’re professionals, we have to deal with criticism. We get talked about a lot but we have to focus on doing our job well.”
Benitez has endured a difficult few months in charge at the Bernabeu and spoke of a campaign against the club in the media during his pre-match news conference this week.
After a year that saw Barcelona lift a domestic and continental treble as well as winning both Clasicos, Pepe hopes for an improved 2016.
“Hopefully 2016 brings better fortunes and it’s a good year for everyone,” he added. “Everyone’s opinions have to be respected. The coach has his, we have ours, the media have theirs.
“It’s to be expected that the other teams are going to make life difficult for us, but if the team and the fans stick together we’ll overcome any difficulty.”