Monday, at a special press conference at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, in Madrid, Spain, Real Madrid President, Florentino Perez, said, immediately following the club’s board of directors’ meeting, that the club administration was fully supportive of embattled coach Rafael Benitez.
“Coach Benitez has our full support, and as much as I acknowledge our fans and members’ annoyance at the result of Saturday’s Clasico, we must remember that he has just arrived, and that we chose him, so we must give him a chance to succeed.”
The press conference followed the calamitous 0-4 home field La Liga defeat to archrivals FC Barcelona. The packed press room had several pointed questions to ask the president, including whether he himself thinks there is a campaign against him personally, to oust him.
“Well, I must speak the truth, I think all of us have witnessed this fact. So no I don’t think, I know there is. There are those who want our club to fail and they target me as the means to that end.”
Asked about the players’ support of the coach, Perez said: “I don’t know of any player who has said they would leave if Rafa stays.”
The topic continued with several other questions until he was asked about rumors of players looking for greener pastures. He responded: “I do not know of anyone. No player has approached me about a trade. No player has said they would prefer this or that way of playing or this or that coach.”
One AS reporter asked “You spoke with Benitez Saturday what did you say?”
“I won’t tell you specifics about what we spoke about in private. But, suffice it to say that the gist was to tell him he had my support. He seemed to accept that as some comfort and seemed ok after the match. I will agree that we all saw our players’ faces on the television. I saw in their faces how distraught they were after the game. But that is natural after a difficult defeat.”
A Marca reporter asked whether during the directors meeting at which they discussed the defeat they also discussed ways of making things better. Perez said, “Yes, and the unanimous response was Rafa Benitez. Real has gone through two tough moments back to back. We had a great run that was then followed by a letdown toward the end of last year and then this year we have had many players injured. We are, nevertheless, only a few points from the top of the table and well on our way in the Champions League. We brought Benitez in to resolve some issues and he must be given the chance to do his job.”
Throughout the conference, which lasted about 30 minutes, Perez drummed on a single issue. He said that he was to blame for the number of “misunderstandings that have taken place and led to untrue coverage in the press. This is my fault. I have not taken the initiative to simply address these inaccuracies as they appear. So in letting them lay, as I knew them to be baseless, they grew or festered. The rumors and unsubstantiated assumptions then become the basis of some media outlets’ reporting. I will not allow that in the future. I will be around to speak with all of you much more often.”