Rafa Benitez was in tears on Wednesday as he fulfilled a lifetime’s ambition taking over Real Madrid. The Madrid-born former Liverpool manager gave one of the shortest opening speeches of any coach taking over the club in the last 15 years.
‘It’s emotional to come home,’ he said. “Today is an emotional day, coming back here, to my home. I hope that things go well, we win trophies, the team play well and I can repay the faith that has been shown in me through my work”.
The 55-year-old manager who returns to the club where he cut his coaching teeth as a youth team managaer having reached C-team level as a player, was flanked by wife Montse and presented to media and directors by president Florentino Perez.
Perez said: ‘We are convinced the arrival of Benitez will make us stronger. We are bringing in a coach who has always wanted to be manager this club. Someone who is known for his methods and for his professionalism.’
Benitez appeared calm and confident when asked about the precarious nature of his new job saying:
‘Madrid is a huge club so it is always looking to sign the best players. There are many different ways to win. We have to attack, score goals and win, if possible, by playing well’ he said of the plans he has as he takes over the club he first joined as a young player aged 13.
Real won nothing this season and have only won one of the last seven league titles in Spain which Benitez as good as admitted that was not good enough when he said:
“This is without doubt the most talented squad I’ve had at my disposal throughout my career. I like Real Madrid teams to play well and win. I hope ours will be like that”, Benítez added.
But the press conference was not without controversy as Rafa failed to acknowledge the club’s legendary goalkeeper Iker Casillas, in what many will interpret as yet another indication that David De Gea will replace the Spain captain at the Bernabeu this summer.
‘Today is not the day to talk about individual cases. I just want to enjoy the huge talent that I’m going to have at my disposal.’
And when he was later asked: ‘What do you think of Casillas as a goalkeeper?’ he repeated the mantra saying:
‘As I have said before I don’t think I should speak about individual players and not even answer this question.’
Casillas still has a lot of support amongst the Real Madrid faithful, something Rafa does not have as the majority of Real fans would have preferred Carlo Ancelotti to stay or that Jurgen Klopp be the next manager not Benitez. Interesting then that it was a defiant Benitez at his first press conference, someone not concerned with burning some bridges.
What do you think of Real Madrid hiring Rafa Benitez as their new manager?