Rafa Benítez was unable to keep his emotions in check on being unveiled as the new Real Madrid coach.
Rafa Benítez gave his first press conference as Real Madrid’s new coach on Wednesday. Director of Institutional Relations Emilio Butragueño, who opened the press briefing, began; “In 1994, when I was playing for the first team, Rafa Benítez was named assistant coach. He had already spent several years working at the youth academy and he had an ambition – an ambition which he has realized today. It’s a pleasure to welcome you back as head coach of the first team”.
Benítez responded: “Before the questions begin, I would like to say that, many years ago, my last game [as a player] at Real Madrid was one which was played in El Escorial which incidentally, was Butragueño’s first game”.
First contact with Madrid: I held a press conference with [Napoli President] Aurelio de Laurentiis in which we announced my departure. After that press conference, Madrid made contact with my agent but we didn’t want to know anything until after the final game of the season. Until that moment, I was fully focused on Napoli.
Emotional return: It’s a very special day for me; I’ve come full circle. This is a day full of emotions and many memories.
Challenges: For me it is constant – every day is a challenge. There is a great team here at Madrid and a great institution behind it.
Casillas and the goalkeeping position: At this point in time, my only plan is to enjoy a great team; Today’s not the day to talk about the contract situations of individual players.
Is there anything lacking in the Madrid squad to be able to play the way you want it to play? I’m always taking note of what’s happening in the transfer market, especially if I am looking to construct a side which plays in a certain way. My teams have to play to best of their ability and have a clear idea about their game, regardless of the system we use. I want a side which is attacking, scores goals and if possible, plays attractive football.
Will you be petitioning the club to instate a new Director of Sport? I’ve spent many years in football, working within various different frameworks. I’ve come here to undertake a role as coach of the first team and I am at the club’s disposition. A coach always gives his opinion; Madrid have a structure in place but it is such a big club that it’s not something which worries me.
The players showing their fondness for Ancelotti: I think it’s positive that the players showed their fondness for a great coach and a great man like Carlo and if one day I have to leave, I hope they will do the same for me. I speak to Carlo regularly and I consider him to be a great friend, I have the highest admiration for on a professional and personal level but I’m not here to speak about the past.
Cristiano Ronaldo as an out-and-out centre-forward with Bale on the left wing. Is such a set-up possible? Rather than going into what kinds of systems will be used, today is more about explaining my working methods. Some people have claimed that my teams are defensive but my last team, Napoli, ended the season scoring 104 goals. A quality team should be attacking and here at Madrid, all of the players are good.
Whose Madrid did you like best: Mourinho’s or Ancelotti’s? I always like the team that wins. It’s not for me to express an opinion on coach versus another. I am thinking only about the future, and what we can do in the future.
Casillas: I’ve already responded to that question. All of the players in the squad have quality.
Dealing with inflated egos: I’ve come across all kinds of personalities in all kinds of dressing rooms, and I’ve dealt with those situations naturally. I like to exchange ideas with my players and if a player suggests one idea and it works, we will continue with it. If not, we’ll look for an alternative formula – whatever is beneficial to the team.
Will you have a say in the youth teams/reserves? I’m someone who came up from the youth teams myself; I spent several years at Madrid’s youth academy and I know who problematic it can be. My role is to take charge of the first team. I spoke to Zizou in Valdebebas the other day; I’m the first team coach but if he wants my opinion, I’ll gladly give it to him.
What aspects of Madrid’s game need improving? If I said that I haven’t seen Real Madrid play for several years would you believe me? I try to keep up to date with all of the big sides. I view teams from a professional outlook and I have my opinion but as the future coach, I’d prefer to keep those opinions to myself. I will extract the best out of the team’s virtues and try to improve the team as best as I can.
High demands: AtLiverpool they told me: we have three competitions in which to try to win something. That’s not the case here. There will a short adaptation process but right from the first moment we have to be up there battling for every competition.
Technical team: They are all sat over there. Fabio Pecchia and Antonio Gómez will be the two assistants. Xavi Valero is the goalkeeping coach. Paco de Miguel is the fitness trainer and Pedro Campos with work with the scouting department. All of them are professionals and good people. Despite what has been said in the press, the club never has any problem with me providing my own technical team.
De Gea as future Madrid goalkeeper: We have a great team and I’m not going to talk about individuals. First we have to analyze the performance levels within the squad and later we can discuss what we might do in the future.
Do you think Liverpool would be wise to sell Raheem Sterling? We know all about Raheem Sterling, that’s no secret – but he is not one of our players and it is not for me to comment on him. I’ve always respected that rule and even more so on a day like today.
Is Madrid obliged to win the league next season? A quality team should be able to reach the end of the season with chances of winning silverware. Madrid have to go out to win every game they play. Sometimes you can do that and sometimes you can’t but the idea is to start winning from the first match we play.