Belfast Telegraph

Brendan Rodgers and Rafa Benitez know they must deliver now for Liverpool and Real Madrid

By Steven Beacom

Rafael Benitez was all emotional yesterday as he was confirmed as Real Madrid's new boss.

The Spaniard openly wept as he took charge of his boyhood club... and suddenly the jokes began. Like 'they said this appointment would end in tears... but that's how it has started'.

Benitez has signed a three year contract at the Bernabeu.

He will do well to see it out. Anyone would.

Second place is not acceptable, as his predecessor Carlo Ancelotti found out one season after guiding Real to their 10th European Cup.

Benitez has promised 'quality football' and 'trophies' for the fans. He better deliver on both. They expect the sun, moon and the stars in the Spanish capital.

Whether he is successful or not will depend on his relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo, who, let's face it, no matter the manager, is the most important figure at the club.

Rafa must get Ronaldo onside or else. Asking Cristiano to constantly track back, like he has done with other superstars in the past, may not be the way to go.

Benitez has not exactly been warmly welcomed by all Real supporters. Had he taken over as manager of Liverpool yesterday, he would have been greeted like a prodigal son.

Some Kopites wanted to see Rafa back at Anfield. Instead Liverpool's American owners this week backed Brendan Rodgers to continue, despite a disappointing campaign.

Unlike Benitez, the Carnlough man (right) won't have to win a title, but he will know all too well that qualifying for the Champions League is required next term.

Belfast Telegraph


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