Real Madrid sticking by Rafa Benitez despite Barcelona battering in El Clasico
Real Madrid have given under-fire coach Rafael Benitez a vote of confidence and said he will remain in charge of the team.
Following a board meeting held in the wake of Real's 4-0 thrashing by arch-rivals Barcelona in Saturday's El Clasico meeting in Madrid, club president Florentino Perez said that Benitez has "all our support and confidence."
Benitez has only been in charge of Madrid since the summer, but his future has been the subject of much discussion after a second successive defeat left them six points adrift of Primera Division leaders Barca.
The former Liverpool and Chelsea manager succeeded Carlo Ancelotti last summer and was unbeaten in his first 14 matches after signing a three-year contract at Real, but the capital club lost 3-2 at Sevilla prior to the recent international break before being embarrassed at the Bernabeu by Barca.
It was a result which created Madrid 'crisis' headlines in Spanish newspapers and led to some home fans calling for long-serving president Perez to resign as well as demands for Benitez to be dismissed.
But Perez defended Benitez at a hastily arranged press conference, saying: "We want to communicate that he has all our support and confidence.
"Rafa has only just started his job here.
"Let him keep working and he will achieve his objectives.
"But I only talk about this moment. I cannot say what will happen in the future. No-one can say what will happen in six months."
There has also been suggestions that star striker Cristiano Ronaldo, the club's record goalscorer, is unhappy playing under Benitez.
Perez rejected this notion, adding: "Ronaldo has never said anything to me about Benitez."
Real's next game is in Ukraine, against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Wednesday, which is followed by a Primera Division trip to sixth-placed Eibar on Sunday.
Several names have been touted in the media as possible replacements for Benitez, but one of them, former France and Real Madrid star Zinedine Zidane, has said he is still not ready to become the club's 14th manager in 12 years.
The 43-year-old, who is currently in charge of the club's B side Castilla, said: "Replace Benitez? I'm the coach of Castilla and Benitez is in charge of the first team. Things are fine at the moment.
"Right now I'm with Castilla. If I stay at the club it is to coach Castilla. At the end of last season I felt that I was still lacking something to take charge of the first team."
He added following Sunday's goalless draw with Barakaldo in Spain's third tier: "I'm still lacking a lot, and anyway a coach is never ready. I'm doing things little by little and I've no hurry.
"The important thing is to be happy day-to-day with what I'm doing. My present is Castilla."