The manager knew that he won’t survive as Real Madrid manager if he loses against Valencia, but Benitez was finally sacked on Monday after an ill-fated spell.
Black Monday is usually a concern for NFL coaches, everybody who bet on sports in the US knows it. However, on this Monday, Mr. Rafael Benitez, defensive coordinator… err… manager of Real Madrid was also axed. The former Valencia and Liverpool (and Internazionale, Chelsea interim and Napoli) manager was replaced by Zinedine Zidane.
Benitez sacking is no surprise at all
Rafa Benitez at Real Madrid was done already before he started. His ideas were just hopelessly remote to what Madrid supporters want to see at Estadio Bernabeu. The fans booing their own team winning 10–2 tells everything. It came against Rayo Vallecano, just before Christmas and it was obvious for virtually everyone involved in internet betting in the EU that the “Waiter” won’t be at Bernabeu for long.
Benitez led Madrid in 25 competitive matches. He won 16, drew 5 and was defeated 4 times. This is a 68.00 win percentage, pretty impressive. In fact, only three managers had better winning percentages in the history of Real Madrid. Unfortunate to Benitez, they were the last three managers: Manuel Pellegrini, Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti. All of them were sacked, by the way.
Benitez did not fit
Club president Florentino Perez could argue that the playing style of Mourinho and Benitez did not fit the club’s identity, but actually this was widely known before their respective assignments. This wasn’t an issue for Pellegrini and Ancelotti however. Still, they failed when it came to the championship. And some of them failed when it came to the dressing room, including Benitez himself.
Real Madrid is currently third in the La Liga table. They are four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid and two behind Barcelona, who have a game in hand. So, the league title is all but gone. However, Perez might felt that he had to strengthen his position as el Presidente, and he also saw that many of the players including superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, just couldn’t stand the coach. So, Perez sent Benitez under the guillotine and assigned someone, who is like the Messiah for Madridistas.
Is it more politics than football?
It wasn’t a question for those who follow La Liga that the moment when Benitez finally sacked will come soon. Even at the moment of his assignment, even amongst the fans of Los Blancos. It is more interesting why Perez assigned him in the first place.
Okay, the (in)famous Presidente has a history of making statements suggesting that he doesn’t have a deep understanding of the game. He once said that signing defenders was a sign of weakness so he only signed attacking players instead. He ditched Claude Makelele because he did not pass longer than ten meters.
So, Perez is far from a footballing mastermind, but he is an excellent politician, any of those, who bet on sports in Spain would tell you that. So, assigning someone only to sack when bringing in God himself for the supporters, makes a lot of sense. All this leaves him arguably stronger than ever. If Zizou would be able to deliver silverware too, Perez could start ordering his own statue to place outside the stadium…