Rafael Benitez insists his relationship with the Real Madrid’s youth team coach Zinedine Zidane is good, despite the Frenchman reportedly being lined up to take his job.
However, Benitez had less empathy for old foe and former Madrid coach Jose Mourinho days after his departure from Chelsea.
“I have no opinion, I am concentrating on my own game,” the former Liverpool manager said when questioned about Mourinho, with whom he clashed several times during his stints in England.
A run of three defeats in five league games, including a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Barcelona, has left Madrid five points behind the Catalans and Atletico Madrid at the top of the table.
Despite being publicly backed by club president Florentino Perez, rumours persist of unrest in the dressing room and that one more defeat in the coming weeks could cost Benitez his job.
Zidane is short on experience, having only ever taken charge of Madrid’s feeder team Castilla, but would be a popular choice among the fans given his hero status after scoring a sensational winning goal in the 2002 Champions League final.
“Zidane is a good coach, he is in a learning phase and the relationship is good,” said Benitez.
“We swap information on which players should come up (to the senior team) and go back down and nothing more.”
Benitez numbers in his first six months in charge stack up poorly compared to Madrid’s last three coaches Carlo Ancelotti, Mourinho and Manuel Pellegrini.
However, he fought back against the critics, citing the large number of injuries suffered by key players at Madrid this season, and insisted they will compete to win both La Liga and the Champions League come the end of the season.
“Every season is different because the circumstances are different,” he added.
“The team has qualified brilliantly in the Champions League and in La Liga everything can change in a couple of weeks. Therefore, I am convinced that the team will do well and will fight for the league and the Champions League.”
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