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Real Madrid v Rayo Vallecano – Rafa needs Real display
The pressure on Rafa Benitez as Real Madrid coach has intensified ahead of his side’s clash against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday – thanks to Jose Mourinho’s sacking by Chelsea. The Spanish giants moved quickly to fend off any suggestion of a quick rekindling of their affair with the Special One with Real Madrid president Florentino Perez forced to deny rumours of Mourinho’s return to the Bernabeu. The Portuguese was sacked by Chelsea on Thursday after the EPL champions’ disastrous start to the season but even that has not deterred pundits and online football tipsters suggesting a return to Madrid for Mourinho.
SUPERSTARS ARE KEY TO SURVIVAL
Benitez is just one of many big name managers at the world’s top clubs to be under intense scrutiny after his team have failed to live up to their Galactico billing and so needs a big display from his superstar players if he is to survive as coach. Real are third in La Liga on 30 points after 15 games – five points behind both Atletico and Barca – and last time out were humbled away at Villarreal in a 1-0 defeat. Saturday’s opponents are in the bottom three on goal difference and have lost their last three games. In fact Rayo Vallecano have not won since they beat Granada 2-1 at home on November 7 so Benitez will be expecting his side to shine against lowly opposition.
Reacting to the speculation that Benitez will be replaced by Mourinho, Real Madrid president Perez told Spanish radio: “No one knows the future but right now no, because we have Rafa Benítez and we are not thinking beyond Rafa. “We hired Benítez to sort out a specific problem. He was the right man among the many possibilities that we had. And if we believed that he was the right man at the start of the season we can’t three months later say he is not. “We have a great coach. Rafa is the person that we have chosen and we have to let him work with the collaboration of all the players. I talk to the players and it is not true that they do not get on with him.”
‘COMPETITIVE BOOST’ AND ZZ RUMOURS
Asked about Mourinho and his tenure at the club, Perez said: “I have good memories of Mourinho. He raised our competitive level. When Mourinho came we had been knocked out for six straight seasons in the round of 16 of the Champions League and we were 13th in the Uefa rankings, and when he left we were number one and we made it to three consecutive semi-finals always losing in unlucky circumstances. “He gave us a competitive boost. But all coaches come and they all have to go. [Vicente] Del Bosque, Mourinho. The job wears them out and you need to change.” Adding intrigue to the plot, Perez responded to stories about Real legend Zinedine Zidane’s chances of the top job, commenting: “Zidane will be a great coach and I’m sure if he wants to be Madrid coach then he will be, but not today.”
By: Joe Cahal