In statements right out of the Jose Mourinho playbook, Real Madrid manager Rafa Benitez has claimed that there is a campaign against him and the club and that the team is not playing as badly as is being made out to be by the Spanish press.
Benitez was the choice of Real president Florentino Pérez and almost since his arrival in the Spanish capital there has been speculation over his future as Rafa has failed to win over many fans with his team’s results and style of play this season.
Case in point is the 10-2 drubbing of Rayo Vallecano before the break that was greeted like a loss in the capital as Rayo lead 2-1 before having two players sent off.
“There is a campaign against [the president] Florentino [Pérez], Real Madrid and me,” said Benítez. “Everything is criticised that can be and where not it is manipulated which anyone can see. This is particularly clear if you look at the situation from the outside.”
Although they have scored freely against the more modest sides, Real have generally been unable to beat stronger opponents and a humiliating 4-0 loss to Barcelona last month was particularly damaging for Benítez.
Real are two points off the joint leaders, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid, with 33 points from 16 games, but the Catalan side have a game in hand after playing in the Club World Cup.
“Everything is being magnified and I have a lot of experience coaching so I know to be distracted as little as possible,” Benítez said. “I have 24 players in the squad but when I leave out one player then it is made out that it is something personal and a load of speculation is built up. The team is a lot better than people think.
“My relationship with the players is infinitely better than what you read in the press. There is a communications department that keeps me informed. The team is doing some things well and others not so much.”
The problem for Rafa is that the campaign against him is not just from the media. A recent telephone survey allegedly asked season-ticket holders who they would prefer as manager of Real Madrid: Zidane, Mourinho, or four other impossible candidates, thus contributing to an air of inevitability around the Bernabéu.
Perez is also under huge pressure at the moment with the Madrid fans starting to turn against him after a series of unpopular moves. In order to save his own skin I would not be surprised to see Perez bring back Mourinho to appease the Madrid fans.