For a manager who has won pretty much everything there is to win in European club football, Rafa Benitez sure does get a lot of hate. As of now, it seems he will be the next Real Madrid manager, taking over Carlo Ancelotti’s role once the season in Italy ends.
Benitez has been the manager of Napoli since 2013, winning the Italian Cup in 2014 and about to finish a disappointing fourth with the club. All in all, Benitez did what was expected of him considering his players and the teams around him, but he was supposed to take Napoli a step forward. Too bad Roma rose under Rudi Garcia, and Juventus are untouchable at the moment. Still, missing out on the Champions League is disappointing.
Benitez hasn’t managed in Spain since 2004. He was highly successful as the manager of Valencia from 2001 to 2004, taking a relatively star-less squad to two league titles and one UEFA Cup trophy. It what landed him the job at Liverpool, a club he won the Champions League with (and reached another final) and one FA Cup. He also won trophies at Chelsea during his short stay, during which he wasn’t welcomed warmly by fans.
Benitez has a bad rep as a decent league manager but great in cup competitions. Real Madrid always want the best and the shiniest. Benitez is neither, but thinking back about what Carlo Ancelotti has achieved as a manager and it’s hard to think of him as someone who is too superior. He’s simply had incredible squads to work with. Benitez had done a little bit less, but with a lot less.
Jurgen Klopp, Arsene Wenger and other names are being thrown around. According to pretty much every major media outlet that covers the sport, Benitez is 99% the man who is going to get the job, and the fan’s outcry for some reason doesn’t really matter. Ancelotti lasted two seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu without winning a league title but did lead them to the 10th European Cup/Champions League trophy.
But at Real Madrid, a year without any titles means going home. There’s no team building, squad development and system implementing patience. It’s about winning now and a lot. Anything less gets you fired.