Rafa Benitez has been appointed as Real Madrid’s new and 8th manager in 10 years, with the tactician signing a three-year deal. He replaced Carlo Ancelotti who was sacked recently by Real Madrid.
The 55-year-old Spaniard left Napoli when his contract expired at the end of a trophy-less season with the club finishing fifth in Serie A table, narrowly missing the UEFA Champions League qualifications on the last game against Lazio.
Benitez returns to the Bernabeu, the club he started his coaching career after a 20-year absence with a tour of the club’s Valdebebas training ground his first formal outing.
Benitez succeeds Ancelotti, who parted company with Madrid after failing to clinch a major trophy this season.The Italian took Madrid to their 10th European triumph with Champions League glory in 2014 but were upstaged by rivals FC Barcelona who are chasing their third and the most prestigious UCL trophy to complete a treble this season.
Benitez started his coaching career at the Santiago Bernabeu as B-team manager from 1993 until 1995 and returns after 20 years away. Barca’s dominance in Spain and across Europe is what Benitez will have to work hard to overturn, as well as getting the best form out of £86million world-record signing Gareth Bale.
Benitez is a two-time La Liga winner with Valencia, in 2002 and 2004, when he also lifted the UEFA Cup. It was this success, alongside a reputation for meticulous preparation for games and detailed tactical knowledge that caught the attention of Liverpool, who brought him to Anfield in 2004 to replace Gerard Houllier.
There, he won the Champions League in his first season and followed it up with the FA Cup the following year. Liverpool were also runners-up in the League Cup final in 2005 and the Champions League final in 2007, where AC Milan avenged their defeat two years earlier.
Benitez has also won the Europa League with Chelsea, where he negotiated a tumultuous tenure as interim manager for six months in the 2012-13 season. Chelsea supporters were dismayed that a man who was so closely aligned with Liverpool and had barbed the Stamford Bridge faithful repeatedly before leading the Reds into numerous duels between the two sides was now guiding their team.
Benitez moved from London to Italy and won the Italian Cup with Napoli in his first season.The one blot on Benitez’s managerial record came in 2010, where he replaced Mourinho as Inter Milan boss. He lasted only six months, exiting in December with the team 13 points behind league leaders and city rivals AC.
Rafa Benitez’s profile
Born: April 16, 1960
Real Madrid Castilla (1974-1981),Parla (124 league appearances, 1981-1985), Linares (34 league appearances, 1985-1986).
Real Madrid B (1993–1995), Valladolid (1995–1996), Osasuna (1996), Extremadura (1997–1999), Tenerife (2000–2001), Valencia (2001–2004), Liverpool (2004–2010), Inter Milan (2010-2011), Chelsea (2012–2013), Napoli (2013–2015), Real Madrid (2015–present)
La Liga: 2001–02, 2003–04; UEFA Cup: 2003–04
FA Cup: 2005–06; Champions League: 2004–05; Super Cup: 2005
SupercoppaItaliana: 2010; FIFA Club World Cup: 2010
UEFA Europa League: 2012–13
Coppa Italia: 2013–14; Supercoppa Italiana: 2014
By Olisemeka Obeche