[quote_box_center]”It is a special, emotional day for me. I have worked for many years trying to be successful to be able to return here,” said Benitez on Wednesday.”[/quote_box_center]
The announcement of Real Madrid’s new manager was a dream coming true for Benitez, who was born and raised in Madrid. He is now 55 years old and has a decent resume, but it is still questionable for many as to whether he is good enough to lead a team like Real Madrid.
[quote_box_right]”It is different to when I arrived at Liverpool. There was a project there for three years to compete and try to win something. Thankfully, in the first year we won the Champions League. Here we need to compete and win from the first moment. We have to always be competing and we will only be satisfied with victory. The expectations are very different, they are much higher than when I arrived a Liverpool.” [/quote_box_right]
When Rafa was young he joined Real Madrid’s academy and while he did not make the senior side, he continued to play for lower division teams in Spain. He also had the experienced of working on the coach’s side for Real, as the U-19 and reserve coach, and later as the assistant manager for the senior team.
When he left Real Madrid, he worked first for Real Valladolid and then Osasuna but did not have much success there. Then he went on to Extremadura and was able to take the team from second to first division in his first season. After leaving the club, he went to coach Tenerife and where he got some spotlight, enough to be hired by Valencia.
When he coached Valencia he had great results, winning the La Liga in 2001/02, and the Manager of the Year Award. Later, he also won another La Liga and a UEFA Cup. Unfortunately because of arguments between him and the director, he left the club, going to England’s Liverpool in 2004.
Benitez achieved immediate success with Liverpool, winning the UEFA Champions League in 2005, a FA Cup in 2006 and reaching the final in the 2007 Champions League, also getting second place in the Premier League in 2008/09. He departed from Liverpool to go to Inter Milan, and went on to win the Supercoppa Italiana and FIFA Club World Cup for the Italian club. After he left Inter, he was appointed interim manager of Chelsea and ended up winning the Europa League in 2003.
Real Madrid’s players, including the team’s star Cristiano Ronaldo are not showing any excitement with Benitez arrival. Cristiano Ronaldo even went so far as to post on social media showing appreciation for Carlo Ancelotti, the previous manager, both before and after his dismissal. There are rumors are Ronaldo and Benitez do not get along very well, but Benitez tried to deny it by saying:
[quote_box_left]”It is normal that the players show their warmth to Carlo, who is a great coach and person. “I have spoken with him and I hold him in the highest esteem.”[/quote_box_left]
The things going on his favor are that he is seen as a Madrid man, having played there before and coaching from 1993 to 1995. Also, he is going to lead a squad that is majority a Champions League winning squad, so there won’t be a lot of changes to be done, at least for now. He is pretty knowledgeable regarding the Spanish market, giving us an insight that he might try to make the club have a more Spanish look.
The things going against him are the appetite from the president of the club, Florentino Perez, to win tittles and by default setting the bar very high for Benitez. One of the most difficult tasks though for him is to be likable and have the players respect him. Many of them were upset that Ancelotti left and we don’t know how open they will be to Benitez. This was something that renowned coach Jose Mourinho had experienced before when he coached Real Madrid. Sergio Ramos, one of Madrid’s players, has even mentioned that they will make life uncomfortable for a manager if they want to. We also know Benitez is not an easygoing person either, as players from clubs he has coached have commented.
His success at Real Madrid is still a question mark, as it will depend a lot on the relationship he has with the players, as well as the board and the fans.