To no-ones surprise Florentino Pérez has given manager Rafa Benitez his marching orders after watching Real Madrid once again fail to capitalize on dropped points by Barcelona at the weekend. Benitez will be replaced by Zinedine Zidane, who has been coaching Los Blancos B-team Castilla for the last 18 months.
Benitez was an unpopular hire, taking over from the popular Carlo Ancelotti in June but there was speculation from the outset that several senior players did not welcome the appointment.
Rafa came under more serious pressure with the 4-0 home defeat to Barcelona in the Clasico on Nov. 21, while the club’s inability to beat the big teams has just added to the pressure.
Under his guidance Real have really struggled against the better sides in La Lia. Real have managed only five points from a possible 18 against La Liga’s heavyweights (27.7% of the points on offer; 0.8 points per game). That is simply not good enough.
So far this season he has only been able to win at San Mamés (1-2) and come away with draws from the Calderón (1-1) and Mestalla (2-2) on Sunday. The rest of his top of the table clashes have ended in defeats against Barcelona (0-4), Sevilla (3-2) and Villarreal (1-0).
That is the worst points tally of Real Madrid’s last three managers (Mourinho, Ancelotti and Benítez).
Perez is under huge pressure from the Madrid fans who are unhappy with his decisions over the last 12 months. Sacrificing Benitez will keep the fans at bay for a while, but putting the unproven Zidane into the Madrid hot seat is a massive gamble by Perez. One that could lead to his downfall.
One option for Perez though is to make Zidane interim manager until he can get Jose Mourinho signed for his return to Santiago Bernabéu. When Mourinho left the Spanish capital his relationship with Ramos and Ronaldo was said to have been broken. It will be interesting to see how they would react to the second coming of the Special One.