Rafa Benitez is six months into his job as Real Madrid boss, he has received the dreaded vote of confidence already and there is an obvious replacement waiting to fill his shoes.
Betting on the next manager of Real Madrid is up and running and, while the fancy odds that were available about one’s pick a couple of months ago have evaporated, one believes that the man in question still represents decent value.
The marriage between Benitez and Real Madrid is on the rocks and heading for a quick divorce. Real president Florentino Perez backed Benitez publicly after Barcelona’s 4-0 Spanish Primera Division win at the Santiago Bernabeu last month, denying media reports that he had received requests from Meringues players to sack the former Liverpool coach. But rumours of dissent in the Real camp persist, with stories that Benitez does not get on with several Meringues stars, including the highest profile one, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Benitez has built his reputation as a tactically astute boss whom players respect because of his football acumen rather than his human personality. That is all very well when the team that Benitez is coaching is winning but Real Madrid is adrift of Barcelona on the Spanish Primera Division ladder and the Meringues have used their Santiago Bernabeu joker already, which means that they will probably have to beat Barca at the Camp Nou to have a shot at the championship. Also, one should not overlook the fact that Real are two points below their city rivals, Atletico Madrid.
Benitez is not the only Real Madrid heavyweight under major pressure. The next round of elections for the position of Real president are little more than 12 months away and you had better believe that Perez will do absolutely everything in his power – including making managerial chances to court favour with voters – to provide himself with good odds of remaining in his current role. Benitez is unpopular so one thinks that he is a dead man walking unless Real rallies to win the Spanish Primera Division, which is unlikely given the state of the competition. Not even a UEFA Champions League triumph may be sufficient to keep Benitez in the job. And it just so happens that one of Real’s favourite sons is waiting in the wings to become the side’s latest leader.
Zinedine Zidane did not agree to coach Real Madrid Castilla, which is the 10-time European champion’s reserve team, for the hell of it. Real Madrid Castilla is ranked second in one of Spanish Segunda Division B’s four groups, with Zidane cutting his managerial teeth in Spain’s third tier. Zidane played down suggestions that he could replace Benitez after Real Madrid lost 0-4 at home to Barcelona in the Spanish Primera Division but his quotes more than implied that he sees himself in the Santiago Bernabeu job in the future.
Real Madrid has a history of rehiring former bosses – no fewer than 10 coaches have had at least two spells in charge of Real, including Fabio Capello, Vicente del Bosque and John Toshack – so one cannot dismiss the chances of Carlo Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho out of hand, although the Italian is making noises about returning to the English Premier League and the Portuguese tends to burn his bridges. No, as far as one is concerned, Zidane is far and away the most likely next manager of Real Madrid.
BetVictor is offering odds of +200 about Zidane succeeding Benitez in the Real Madrid job and, in light of everything that is happening in and around the Meringues, that strikes one as a fair bet that may not take forever to pay out. For example, the same bookmaker is laying bets at odds of +150 that Benitez is not Real’s coach on New Year’s Day.
Zidane to be next Real Madrid manager
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