Rafa Benitez opens up on chaotic seven-month reign as Real Madrid boss claiming he ‘had to guide Cristiano Ronaldo’… but insists he did not give favourable treatment to Gareth Bale over the Portuguese star
- Rafael Benitez was sacked as Real Madrid boss in January 2016 after horror spell
- Former Liverpool manager claims he walked into an ‘unfavourable environment’
- Madrid won the Champions League just months after his departure
Rafa Benitez has opened up on his nightmare spell as Real Madrid manager, claiming he had to pay for the ‘unfavourable environment’ he walked into.
Benitez took charge of the Spanish giants in the summer of 2015 but was dismissed just seven months later following a rollercoaster tenure that while wasn’t a total disaster on the pitch was chaos behind the scenes.
The former Liverpool, Newcastle and Everton manager left the club with Madrid just two points off the top of the table.
But a falling out with many stars including key players set the path for a rocky tenure before he was axed at the start of 2016.
Zinedine Zidane then took over as boss and while his side finished well behind Barca in LaLiga, he did win the first of three consecutive Champions League titles.
Rafa Benitez was appointed Real Madrid boss by Florentino Perez in the summer of 2015
But the Spanish boss had trouble managing some of his key stars including Cristiano Ronaldo
Without naming specifics, Benitez told Spanish radio channel Cadena SER that there was always a conspiracy against his side to deny him success.
‘In my time at Real Madrid they didn’t let us win. We were first in our Champions League group. In the Champions League that Madrid wins, we did our job.
‘In the [Spanish] Cup they eliminated us due to an administrative error with [Denis] Cheryshev.
‘Then it seemed that it was my fault because I was no longer there. The team was physically superior to the rivals. When I left, I was two points from Barcelona with a game in hand. Two months later they were 12 points behind Barca.
Benitez explained further that he arrived into chaos after the departure of the previously popular Carlo Ancelotti and revealed he had a tough time managing a fractured dressing room and having to constantly micro manage several of his first-team players including Cristiano Ronaldo.
‘When we arrived in Madrid, Ancelotti had just left, he had a very good relationship with the players, and it seemed that we arrived with a whip.
‘There was an unfavourable environment: the departure of [Iker] Casillas, Keylor Navas, the arrest of [Karim] Benzema… There are complicated situations. And when everything gets complicated, who pays? Me.
‘Cristiano, knowing what he was like, you had to guide him The problem is when you have to guide seven, some of them don’t play, they’re not happy. And they go to the media to leak it.’
Despite his strong squad, Benitez left the club in January 2016 two points behind Barcelona
Benitez denies giving Gareth Bale better treatment than Ronaldo during his tenure
Following Benitez’s exit, Madrid went on to win the Champions League final a few months later
Benitez also addressed ‘myths’ of his time at Madrid including one surrounding his treatment of Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, with many accusing him of favouring the Welshman.
‘It’s another lie. He plays with Wales, he catches me next door when I’m in England, it’s common sense. It’s another idiocy that they said at the time. They [the media] sharpened nonsense like that.’
‘The only comment I made to Cristiano Ronaldo, as I knew him from Manchester United, is that we analyse how he was shooting free kicks. We looked at the trajectory, see if we can make any adjustments, saw we couldn’t and forgot about it.
‘It’s my only conversation with him. Everything else is a lie. When he takes free kicks, when I leave, his stats are worse. I was surprised that journalists I knew would say that without talking to me.’
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