Real Madrid right to stick by Rafa Benitez but for how long?

Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | November 24, 2015

Being Real Madrid manager is widely regarded as arguably the toughest gig in club football. Lose the odd match and fickle fans, not to mention the serpentine Spanish media, turn on you.

“He has our support”

Incumbent coach Rafa Benitez has been beaten in Los Blancos’ last two outings, going down 3-2 at Sevilla before a 4-0 El Clasico mauling at the Bernabeau at the hands of Barcelona.

Spain Soccer Real Madrid

That Real president Florentino Perez had to call a press conference backing Benitez after one poor performance at home says it all about the mentality of those connected with the club.

“He has all our support and confidence,” Perez said of former Liverpool and Chelsea boss Benitez. “Rafa has only just started his job here. Let him keep working and he will achieve his objectives.”

Taste for trophies

Benitez, whose coaching career began in Madrid, has won 10 of 16 matches and drawn four to go with those two defeats. His win ratio of 62.5, however, is way down on predecessors Carlo Ancelotti, Jose Mourinho and Manuel Pellegrini, who all recorded victory percentages well over 70.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Chelsea - Etihad Stadium

Even they were all forced out of the Bernabeu, with effectively winning three-quarters of their games in charge not enough to save Chilean coach Pellegrini (now with Manchester City) and Italian manager Ancelotti, who steered Real to La Decima in his first season.

Success at the Bernabeu is instead measured tangibly through trophies rather than stats, and there is simply no commitment to honour contracts.

Job security?

Perez gave his backing to Ancelotti in March, but by May he was sacked, and the Real president even hinted that he could well wield the axe again in the future.

“I cannot say what will happen in the future,” he added. “No-one can say what will happen in six months.”

Spain Soccer Benitez Real Madrid

So the Sword of Damocles still hangs over Benitez, who is in charge of a team comprised of planet-sized ‘Galactico’ egos that has quite simply been second-best to Barca for quite some time.

Approach may be a Real letdown

As desperate as Madrid are for success, the complete lack of coaching stability is not yielding what they seek. Since 2003, Real have won just six major honours – three La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey crowns and a sole Champions League triumph.

Perhaps Perez cannot see the wood for the trees. Since Vicente del Bosque was sacked in the summer of 2003, there have been a dozen changes of coach through the Bernabeu’s revolving door.

Twice as many Madrid managers as trophies is hardly surprising, given the average tenure is a year. Real could do with looking out from the capital to Catalonia and bitter rivals Barcelona, who have had half as many bosses and tons more success.

Barcelona blueprint

FC Bayern Munich vs FC Barcelona

Nou Camp coaches are allowed to build something. Following Radomir Antic’s axing the same summer as Del Bosque got the Bernabeu boot, successors Frank Rijkaard and Pep Guardiola had four or five years instead of a single season.

Sustained success has followed with Barca bringing 14 major honours home in the same 12-year spell since 2003. Trailing them by six points in La Liga, Real and Benitez have it all to do with Coral quoting a 5/1 on the title coming back to the capital. It may be what is required to keep his job.


Check out our La Liga page for all the Spanish top-flight action.