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But once again, most are left baffled by the choices made from the richest club on planet Earth. There's no surprise at the head-scratching, the Spaniards were just four points off the top spot when Rafa was given his marching orders.
In a La Liga season that is proving to be extremely close, this decision perhaps should not have been close to even consider. A draw with Valencia seemed to put the final nail in the coffin of the manager's tenure.
When you inject that much money into a club, its completely rational to expect high standards and success. But complaining about a draw at the Mestalla is really pushing it. It seems this Benítez came at a very wrong time.
And just one look at Real's record this season results in further raised eyebrows. They've only lost three games all season, and all of those were in the Spanish top flight. Yet they remain well in the mix and have shown their ferociousness with a 10-2 win over Rayo Vallecano, along with some impeccable other displays.
Perhaps the turning point was the controversial Copa Del Rey exit. While its unclear who the blame of the ineligible player scandal is being pinned on, Real certainly scuffed their lines in what was a big opportunity to secure some prestigious silverware; or at least keep on course to doing so. With things so competitive right now, maybe the value of the Spanish Cup was underestimated.
Then there's also the possibility of seeing if Real Madrid made the mistake at the very start, by in fact hiring Benítez. With a squad crammed with Galácticos, did Perez and the Real Madrid powers at be really bring in the right person to manage them?
Of course his spell at Napoli was nowhere near catastrophic, just like this one at Real Madrid wasn't either. But the indication of him being unable to win the Scudetto in, with all due respect to the Serie A, a less competitive league than that of La Liga, along with the general consensus around Naples that the club was taking steps back than forward should have put people on alert.
You can't diminish the impact that the media had as well. While we ourselves do not like to berate or shame anyone in sports, certain outlets do. Many in Spain. Just around a week before his sacking, the former manager said that Real Madrid and Florentino were victims of a "campaign" from the media.
It's better to veer away from the political and maybe darker side of things but if Rafa was true in his claims, Real Madrid may have been itching at a somewhat justifiable opening to sack him. With such a large sphere of influence, one tarnish in your image and that's bad publicity, and bad business.
Results make or break your chances and trophies but it's not everything. This sacking shows it. Benítez's side still had plenty of openings, but it appeared his players didn't really comply with him; they were disagreeing of some training methods and tension was mounting.
All these back stories and rumours of arguments or disapprovals could have been true. The results may have been papering over the cracks. With such a demanding set of players, who require a set up that they can thrive in, being unable to satisfy them may lead to an exit.
It could be an ego thing, or maybe not, but when you as an investor put the cash in, you want to get it back out. For some reason, Real's front three of Bale, Benzema and Ronaldo has not been able to catch anywhere near the level of attention brought in by Messi, Neymar and Suarez.
The chemistry just doesn't seem to be there. Could that be a managerial fault? Easily so. At the home of Real's arch-rivals, the Catalanian giants have an established system tailor made to promote interlinking play but plenty of individual freedom too from the South American triumvirate. Constant chopping and changing which has become apparent from Madrid resembles a complete opposite.
There's been plenty of maybes and ifs all over this one, but here's one more: Maybe this is the beginning of a Real revamp. It's been a long time coming, no club of their calibre can stand or bear with being under the shadow of their biggest rivals. Changing the manager is the first step to changing that.
Either way, the Benítez could have been flawed from the start. Did either club or manager no what they were taking on? Is the Madrid side in need of a rebirth? Or was it just a rash decision from the powers above? We may never know the answers to those questions, but perhaps that's fitting, because mystery to the naked eye may have been in truth what lead to Benítez's departure.
|Image: Sports Illustrated|