According to Spanish news outlet AS, Real Madrid vice president Eduardo Fernández de Blas may have accidentally confirmed Rafa Benitez as the next manager for Los Blancos.
Amid a hostile crowd at a dinner event for fans, de Blas during a speech reportedly said, “I’ll tell you something, just one thing. Carlo Ancelotti is a phenomenon. We’re eternally grateful to him. For me, up to three days ago he was the best coach in the world, as was José Mourinho a couple of years ago and as of next week it will be Rafa Benítez.”
The crowd turned hostile, questioning the Real Madrid decision to sack Ancelotti, and de Blas didn’t exactly have an answer, but still managed to keep his cool. “You’ve sacked the best coach!” screamed an angry fan, to which de Blas replied, “He was an exceptional coach, a gentleman and a person I’m very fond of and that is something shared by most Madrid fans…” “So, then why sack him?” the heckling from the crowd continued, but De Blas remained calm. “I’m looking forward to July 30 when we see the best 30 players in the world at the disposition of the best coach in the world.”
Benitez will take charge of his final game as manager of Napoli today, a home game against Lazio on the final day of Serie A play. It’s a massive game, as Benitez’s club currently sits in fourth, while their opponents are three points above them in the final Champions League place. The task is simple: Napoli must win to claim third place and a Champions League spot; lose and they’re out of Europe’s top competition next season. Benitez has already confirmed he will leave his current post at the end of the season.
The switch from Carlo Ancelotti – who won the Champions League last season – to Rafa Benitez, who is struggling to secure Champions League play for his club, is somewhat shocking for not just Real Madrid fans, but also many others who believe the move to be a downgrade. However, it was clearly important for president Florentino Perez to secure the services of a Spaniard, and Benitez is the perfect fit, having begun his managerial career by taking charge of the Real Madrid reserve squad for two years before earning jobs in Spain with Valladolid, Osasuna, Extremadura, Tenerife, and Valencia.
Finally, according to a report by Mundo Deportivo, Napoli sporting director Riccardo Bigon was offered the opportunity to take up the same role at Real Madrid, but turned down the opportunity. It’s unclear how the dynamic would have worked with a sporting director and a president such as Perez who often effectively serves as that role.