Rafa Benitez Comments on Cristiano Ronaldo, Florentino Perez and Real Madrid

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2016

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 15:  Head coach Rafa Benitez of Real Madrid looks on during the UEFA Champions League Group A match between Real Madrid and Shakhtar Donetsk at estadio Santiago Bernabeu on September 15, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Former Real Madrid manager Rafael Benitez has conceded that it’s “not easy” to work under the club’s president Florentino Perez.

Benitez was sacked earlier this season with the team struggling to keep pace with rivals Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in the La Liga title race.

On Wednesday night, the coach was a guest on BT Sport’s Champions League coverage and opened up on what it’s like to work at a club which has a flyaway approach to managers.

“He's [Perez] around, he's talking with players, he's talking with the press,” he said, per Chris Beesley of the Daily Mirror. “He's always around, it's not easy for a manager, especially coming from England, to see the chairman talking with players or talking with the press every single day.”

He continued:

It's difficult to explain. You need to know exactly what happened in Real Madrid in the last years. You could see Camacho, Del Bosque, Pellegrini, Mourinho, Ancelotti [all hired and fired as Real boss]... so it's not easy to be there [sic] manager there.

You have to do everything perfect. As soon as something is wrong or the chairman thinks that it's wrong then you're used to having problems.

I think that we were quite good, as I said before. I think that we could do really well but they were a little bit nervous and the fans were a little bit nervous and the chairman was a little bit nervous then they change the manager.

MADRID, SPAIN - JUNE 03:  New Real Madrid head coach Rafael Benitez (L) poses for a picture with president Florentino Perez  (R) during his presentation at Santiago Bernabeu stadium on June 3, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

There’s no denying managers have to live up to particularly high expectations at the Santiago Bernabeu. It’s something Benitez’s predecessor Carlo Ancelotti found out to his peril, as he was sacked just a season on from clinching the club’s much-coveted 10th European Cup.

In the capital there seems to be a constant strive for perfection, which has been compounded by the dominance of their great rivals Barcelona, who, after a stellar 2015 in which they won five trophies, seem set to sweep all before them once again in 2016.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 14:  (L-R) Luis Suarez of FC Barcelona celebrates with his team mates Neymar and Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona after scoring his team's third goal during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Celta Vigo at Camp Nou on Febru
David Ramos/Getty Images

That’s something Benitez also found to be an issue.

“The question is that Barcelona is there winning and that is difficult to manage for Real Madrid so they have to keep winning and if you do well still Barcelona could still be doing well,” he said per Tom Farmery of the MailOnline. “That is a big problem for Real Madrid.”

It’s also a big problem for their star player Cristiano Ronaldo, whose stunning goalscoring efforts are often in vain in pursuit of silverware. Benitez also opened up on the forward, insisting the team's talisman seemed content during his stint at the club. 

“I think that he was quite happy with the way that we were training because we trained with the ball so for players, you have top-class players here,” he said of Ronaldo, per Farmery.

“They like, they enjoy training with the ball. He's a winner, he's very competitive, he wants to win, he wants to score goals so that is the positive side.”

Real Madrid's coach Rafa Benitez (L) watches forward Cristiano Ronaldo (R) during a team training session during the International Champions Cup tournament in Melbourne on July 20, 2015. AFP PHOTO / Paul CROCK -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICT
PAUL CROCK/Getty Images

Since Zinedine Zidane took over from Benitez, the Portuguese has been in much better form, getting back to scoring regularly in La Liga and netting the crucial opener against AS Roma in the Champions League on Wednesday.

AS English thinks that this version of Real Madrid is a lot easier on the eye than the one put together by Benitez:

Stability is key to success from a team perspective, though, and Benitez hailed the consistency showed by Barcelona, something which is at odds with the approach of Los Blancos.

“Barcelona now has been in six cup finals in the last eight years,” Benitez said, per Beesley. “They’ve won more than double the trophies of Real Madrid in the time that the chairman is there, so I think it is because they are consistent and that is the key to win the league title.”

Benitez believes Real need more consistency.
Benitez believes Real need more consistency.Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

After his failure at the Santiago Bernabeu it’s going to be intriguing to see where Benitez ends up next. The former Liverpool manager hinted that he would be keen on a return to the Premier League, though, per BT Sport Football:

Sadly, Benitez’s stint in his dream job panned out just as many had anticipated. His hardline, pragmatic and tactical approach to the game always seemed to be at odds with the free-flowing, fast-paced football which is craved by Madridistas. Of course, more time may have yielded better results, but that’s not a luxury afforded to many at the Bernabeu.

His remarks on consistency are salient. After all, Barcelona have a model which they’ve meticulously adhered to for the best part of a decade, and while managers have come and gone, they’ve all referred to these mantras.

As long as Real continue to rip it up and start again, they’ll never enjoy similar spell of sustained success.