Benitez to Real Madrid – Pros and Cons

Published 06/03/2015, 9:53 AM EDT


Rafa Benitez will be presented as the new coach of Real Madrid on Wednesday, replacing the recently sacked Carlo Ancelotti. Madrid’s pursuit of the former Napoli manager, who left his post after the final game of the Serie A season on Sunday, has been an open secret for quite a few weeks, but is it the right decision? As with any managerial appointment, it could go either way and much will depend on his relationship with the players, the board and the fans.

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Why it might work-

Benitez is seen as a Real Madrid man because of his association with Castilla, an integral part of Real Madrid’s Youth Academy, where he made around 500 appearances and later went on to coach the side from 1993 to 1995. There will be no language issues for the Madrid-born coach and he deploys the kind of rotation policy that Ancelotti failed to. Tiredness crept in towards the end of the campaign when Barcelona were fresh following Luis Enrique’s own policy of resting certain players earlier in the campaign. There is no doubt that those problems will be put to bed.

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Home-grown talent always holds a special place in the Bernebeu’s heart, and Benitez is likely to take a much keener interest in Castilla’s squad as compared to his predecessors, and it also serves the long-term aim of Florentino Perez to give Real more of a Spanish look.

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Why it might not work-

Ancelotti’s history as a coach who has more success in cup competitions than the league has been proven with his Real Madrid stint but Benitez fares no better. He has won two league titles in his managerial career with Valencia, but that was way back in 2002 and 2004. Benitez has changed and so has the La Liga. As impressive as they were, the task at Madrid will be much different and arguably much tougher with the pressures of facing a Barcelona side firing on all cylinders and boasting one of the greatest attacks in the game’s history.

Benitez also faces the more immediate task of winning over the players, many of whom publicly backed Ancelotti during the final weeks of his reign. His relationship with some of the players at Inter was far from cordial and he has been quick to oppose club owners when he feels he has not been sufficiently backed, especially in terms of transfer targets.

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Perez will sell Benitez as a Madridista coming home. That may give him some time but the vultures are set to gather sooner than usual if things do not go well under the Spaniard.

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Paritosh Gautam

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