Real Madrid is arguably the most high-profile side in European football stuffed with world’s top players beginning with the great Cristiano Ronaldo. If a team could afford to keep World Cup hero James Rodrigues to sit on the bench for many matches, it only means the Club is brimming with talent. Somehow, Real Madrid have failed to win La Liga since the 2011-12 season and lost the El Clasico games to arch-rivals FC Barcelona on many occasions. Therefore, the Club owners laid the blame squarely on management and in less than a year, they sacked Carlo Ancelotti and Rafael Benitez. The new man Zinedine Zidane has not been a full manager just yet but his arrival cannot be said to have met with any great deal of success. The Spanish football season has already ended and Real Madrid finished second behind Barcelona.
One of the debatable issues in European football has been the unceremonious sacking of Rafa Benitez. That happened in January, when the Spanish Primera League was only halfway through and Real had been occupying the third place in points’ table behind Atletico Madrid and Barcelona. If the reason for Rafa’s ouster was taking Real Madrid to the top, they still had many games left before the season ended. But Club President Florentino Perez decided to get rid of Rafa without giving him any more chances. Rafa was a sad man and many Real Madrid players thought that the coach got a raw deal. Gareth Bale voiced his concern in social media as did James Rodrigues. When Zidane came to Madrid, he knew about the private feelings of Bale and James and in some matches under him as a new manager, Zidane appeared to be giving the two guys a partial treatment. Though Zidane denied this in the media, Real Madrid fans watched Bale and James biding their time in some matches; James more so than Bale. In La Liga under Zidane, James made just 9 starts and played 90 minutes on only 4 of those appearances. For 8 La Liga games and 3 European fixtures, James was unavailable due to injury and overall he spent only half as much time on the field than he did in the 2014-15 season under Carlo Ancelotti.
After the raw deal at Madrid, Rafa Benitez moved to Newcastle United and took the job of a new manager. Newcastle were suffering under Steve McClaren and they sacked him in March 2016. The vacant spot has since been occupied by Rafa Benitez. Under Rafa, things brightened for Newcastle and they have remained unbeaten in 5 games since Rafa took over. Now fortunes have swung Rafa’s way and he is expected to be appointed manager with extended powers. The Newcastle bosses are already finalizing terms of Rafa’s appointment. Meanwhile, Rafa is already looking around for potential transfer targets. Newcastle owner Mike Ashley and Managing Director Lee Charnley are both keen to keep Rafa at St. James Park on terms that could be agreeable to the Spaniard. Among other things, the Club could be giving Rafa a free hand in recruitment by opening an overdraft facility. That will provide instant access to money that Rafa would need for signing up potential players.
When Rafa was down to his last day at Real Madrid, football media made fun of him saying that the hapless Rafa would be looking for a gardener’s job now. In a few months, however, things have changed completely for Rafa. Newcastle bosses want him at any cost and fans are voicing the same sentiments. It is difficult to predict the future of Newcastle United under Rafa but there are indications that the Spaniard will do his utmost to nullify the bad reputation tagged on him, while he worked at Madrid. In that sense, he could prove that his untimely sacking was Madrid’s loss and a gain for Newcastle United.
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