Real Madrid's director of institutional relations, Emilio Butragueño, has refused to guarantee that Rafa Benitez will remain as Los Blancos manager, following the disappointing 2-2 draw with Valencia on 3 January. Previous reports in Spain suggested the former Liverpool boss would receive his marching orders should the La Liga giants suffer another setback in their visit to Gary Neville's side.
Even though Benitez's outfit managed to secure a point with just 10 men, following Mateo Kovacic's dismissal early in the second half, the poor showing by the team failed to quash speculation about a management change. Reports in Spain suggest that president Florentino Perez will make a final decision on Benitez's future in a board meeting on 4 January, as part of his outlining of plans for Los Blancos in 2016.
Questioned after the Valencia game in an interview with Spanish TV's Movistar on whether the club could sack Benitez in the board meeting, Butragueño was coy: "I think the team offered a good show.
"I insist that the circumstances didn't help us and even with 10 men we had chances to win the game until the very end. So I think we need to remain calm.
"I think the team put in a good shift. We know how difficult it always is for us to come here, and today, the circumstances didn't help – we were a player down. However we didn't lose control and we could have scored a third, even with a man less. We didn't lose composure but we didn't achieve our objective, which was to win here. The path we are on isn't bad."
The draw left Real Madrid four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid in the La Liga table, and comes as another example of them stumbling against some of Spain's bigger teams this season, drawing with drawing with Atletico Madrid and Valencia in the opening half of the campaign while losing to Sevilla, Villarreal and Barcelona.
Meanwhile, when asked about the stability of his role in a post-match press conference, Benitez said: "I can't avoid that some people will start speculating. What I can do is ensure my team puts in the work like they put in tonight. Sadly, for all of their efforts, we couldn't take the three points."