Real Madrid coach Rafa Benitez has received the backing of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger amid speculation over his future in the Spanish capital.
Speaking to the media in his press conference ahead of his side’s Champions League clash with Dinamo Zagreb, Wenger insisted that it would be harsh to sack the Spaniard so soon into the season, as reported by ESPN.
On the face of it, the decision would seem harsh given that Madrid are just six points adrift of rivals Barcelona who currently top the La Liga table with Atletico Madrid sandwiched in between with a two-point lead over Benitez’s men.
In addition, Los Blancos have already qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League after picking up 10 points from their opening four games in Group A, and they will harbour realistic ambitions of being one of the sides capable of competing for the trophy next year.
However, that is where the positives end for Benitez as he has had to deal with various other issues both on and off the pitch since arriving in the Spanish capital in the summer.
As noted by Sky Sports’ Spanish football expert Guillem Balague, there is a growing feeling that Benitez has lost the support and faith of the players. That was seen in their performance in the disastrous 4-0 loss to Barcelona on Saturday evening, and it was another sign that the former Liverpool and Napoli boss has already lost the dressing room.
Furthermore, there has been speculation over the future of Cristiano Ronaldo, while president Florentino Perez has come under scrutiny for his initial decision to appoint Benitez and his intended plans for next summer which could see Ronaldo sold, as reported by The Mirror.
As a result, there is growing tension within the club and that is leading to criticism from the outside. With Perez set to speak to the media on Monday evening, it remains to be seen whether or not Benitez is given the opportunity to continue in the role until the end of the season as the power struggle at squad level and above continue to rage on.
If he does stay, then Benitez will be under significant pressure to get things back on track before the winter break, and Wenger evidently believes that the 55-year-old deserves more time to turn things around.