Monday 20 November 2017

Rafa still the man for Real

Perez gives boss vote of confidence despite rumours about Ronaldo

A defiant Florentino Perez has backed Rafa Benitez and blamed the media for Real Madrid’s woes
A defiant Florentino Perez has backed Rafa Benitez and blamed the media for Real Madrid’s woes

Real Madrid have given under-fire coach Rafael Benitez a vote of confidence and said he will remain in charge of the team.

Club president Florentino Perez said at a press conference last night, following a board meeting held in the wake of Real's 4-0 thrashing by arch-rivals Barcelona in Saturday's El Clasico meeting in Madrid, that Benitez has "all our support and confidence".

Benitez has only been in charge of Madrid since the summer but his future has been the subject of much discussion after a second successive defeat left them six points adrift of Primera Division leaders Barca.

The former Liverpool and Chelsea manager succeeded Carlo Ancelotti last summer and was unbeaten in his first 14 matches after signing a three-year contract at Real.

But the capital club lost 3-2 at Sevilla prior to the recent international break before being embarrassed at the Bernabeu by Barca. It was a result which created Madrid 'crisis' headlines in Spain and led to some home fans calling for long-serving president Perez to resign as well as demands for Benitez to be dismissed.

But Perez defended Benitez at a hastily arranged press conference, saying: "We want to communicate that he has all our support and confidence. Rafa has only just started his job here.

"Let him keep working and he will achieve his objectives.

"But I only talk about this moment. I cannot say what will happen in the future. No-one can say what will happen in six months."

There has also been suggestions that star striker Cristiano Ronaldo, the club's record goalscorer, is unhappy playing under Benitez.

But Perez rejected this notion, adding: "Ronaldo has never said anything to me about Benitez."

Perez also rebuffed calls from angry fans for him to step down.

Real's drubbing by their arch rivals prompted supporters at the Bernabeu to chant for Perez to go and the construction magnate said ohe understood and respected their frustration.

However, he said there had been no discussion about holding new elections at a board meeting yesterday.

A clearly irritated Perez attacked the Spanish media for what he said were attempts to destabilise Real and added that an extremist fans' group known as the "Ultras Sur" had been behind the chants for him to resign and were trying to "intimidate" him.

"I can't tell you what will happen in the future but what I can tell you is that we did not discuss the possibility of holding new elections for even one minute," Perez said.

Real's next game is at Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League tomorrow, which is followed by a Primera Division trip to sixth-placed Eibar on Sunday.

Several names have been touted in the media as possible replacements for Benitez, but one of them, former France and Madrid star Zinedine Zidane, has said he is still not ready to become the club's 14th manager in 12 years.

The 43-year-old, who is currently in charge of the club's B side Castilla, said in AS: "Replace Benitez?

"I'm the coach of Castilla and Benitez is in charge of the first team. Things are fine at the moment."

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