MADRID (Reuters) - Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti suggested Karim Benzema needs to work harder after the France forward was again roundly whistled by home fans in Sunday's 3-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao.
Benzema has blown hot and cold since joining the nine-times European champions from Olympique Lyon in 2009, although Sunday's reaction from the frustrated faithful was perhaps a touch harsh given that he set up both Isco's goals.
Instead of backing his player, however, Ancelotti, who replaced Jose Mourinho at the end of last season, told a news conference he understood the crowd's reaction.
He suggested Benzema could learn from Real's energetic and tenacious Argentina forward Angel Di Maria.
"Today one thing was very clear," Ancelotti said.
"Benzema was whistled a bit, while Di Maria was applauded by whole stadium," added the Italian.
"The fans look closely at the players. It's a very clear sign for everyone that hard work is applauded."
Ancelotti had little new to say about the possible arrival of Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur before the transfer window closes on Monday.
Portugal fullback Fabio Coentrao, who has reportedly been seeking an exit, will be staying.
"I don't know what will happen tomorrow, I cannot say today that the squad is closed," Ancelotti said.
"Coentrao is staying and I think everyone is very pleased with this decision. I did not want him to leave."
(Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Ed Osmond)