Rafa Benitez is again under pressure at Real Madrid following the weekend’s defeat to Villarreal and the club aren’t backing him publically.
Marca note that after Madrid were soundly beaten by Barcelona earlier in the season, there was a spirited defence of the Coach by President Florentino Perez.
But this time, after the reverse at El Madrigal, no one at Santiago Bernabeu is willing to ‘put their hand in the fire’ and openly support Benitez.
It’s suggested that if the team’s results are no longer positive, then Benitez has little in his favour as the other complaints about his tenure – the allegedly dull style of play and the disagreements with players – could be excused if victories were being recorded.
Benitez is also aware of the lack of support from the hierarchy and his situation is weakened by Madrid having already decided on a replacement, if it comes to that – Zinedine Zidane.
The missed opportunity of the weekend, when Barcelona dropped two points and could have let Madrid back in the title race, is also lamented, as rather than edge closer to the champions, Madrid fell further away in defeat.
It’s also reportedly felt by senior figures in the club that the performance at Villarreal was a symptom of the squad not agreeing with Benitez, and the tension leading to a below-par first half. The shadow of Carlo Ancelotti is described as hanging over Benitez from his first day.
The dropping of Toni Kroos for Casemiro is painted as another row brewing between Benitez and a big-name player, after disagreements of one sort or another with Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez, Marcelo, Jese and Sergio Ramos.
Benitez’s control of the dressing room and aptitude for dealing with the personalities therein is being called into question, with Marca saying the Coach’s ‘credit is running out.’