Second place not good enough for Real Madrid, says Benitez

The coach wants to change the Blancos’ recent failings to win trophies and he fired a warning to players who expect to play week-in, week-out

Rafael Benitez has promised that Real Madrid will not settle for second place any longer as his reign as head coach kicked off with his unveiling on Wednesday.

The Blancos have won La Liga just once in the past seven seasons, with Barcelona taking five titles and Atletico Madrid triumphing once in the other six campaigns.

Benitez – who has not been a particularly popular replacement for the well-liked, ousted Carlo Ancelotti – has every intention of changing their recent record to add to their 32 Liga titles after signing a three-year deal at the Santiago Bernabeu.

“The only thing that counts at this club is coming first – second is not good enough,” he told reporters at his first press conference.

“At a big club, first is possible. At Napoli it was a different squad but we still managed to compete in three different competitions. Here, the next game is always the most important game.

“Real Madrid are expected to win every game and that will be our mindset.”

When asked about the futures of Iker Casillas, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, Benitez repeatedly stressed he “didn’t want to talk about individuals” on his first day.

However, the tactician did drop a hint that the likes of Ronaldo and other regular starters may have to settle for more matches on the bench while he is in charge of the playing squad.

“You have a spine to a side, but also you need to rest players sometimes,” Benitez added. “What you have to do is use your players in the right way.

“This is the best squad I have ever coached. We will train to work with the ball 80 per cent of the time and without the ball 20%. Comparing the way I’ve coached at previous clubs is irrelevant.

“All of the players are great professionals, but our goal is to win with individual and collective quality; at the moment the focus is heavy on individual quality. One has to decide who plays depending on the match.”

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06 2015
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