Rafael Benitez's position as Real Madrid head coach is not under immediate threat, according to Spanish media reports. Real suffered a humiliating 4-0 loss at home against Barcelona at the weekend to fall six points behind their bitter rivals in the La Liga table.
Despite the shattering defeat, there is no talk among the club's hierarchy to sack Benitez, according to Madrid-based daily AS. The paper said the club was planning to release a statement backing the Spanish tactician in the coming hours.
Goals either side of half-time from Neymar, Andres Iniesta and Luis Suarez (2) gave Barca a comfortable victory at the Santiago Bernabeu and drew the ire of the home fans, who booed their team off the pitch at the final whistle. Benitez admitted in the post-match press conference that he was "hurting", but said he was not worried about losing his job.
"Whenever we win or lose we all have a part to play in the result. It hurts us a lot to lose in this manner and against a team like Barcelona," Benitez told Real's official website. "We wanted to attack, press and win possession high up the pitch but things didn't go to plan."
Spanish football expert Guillem Balague said Real will "probably" sack Benitez, whose safety-first approach has reportedly alienated the dressing room.
"There is no way whatsoever that this kind of performance – we're not even talking about the result – but the performance, will have no consequences," he told Sky Sports. "It has to have consequences. That's how Real Madrid works.
"That means of course that [Real president] Florentino Perez will probably get rid of the manager, and if that's the case, what is next? Yet another manager. Of course, Rafa is not the only one to blame, but it's almost much easier to get rid of the manager."
Meanwhile, Real Madrid Castilla coach Zinedine Zidane, who has been touted as a potential replacement for Benitez, dismissed the chances of him taking over from the former Liverpool boss. "I'm the Castilla coach and Benitez is the first-team coach. Things are in their proper place the way they are at the moment," he was reported as saying by AS. For now I'm with Castilla and if I stayed at the club it was to manage Castilla. Last year at the end of the season, I had the feeling that I still have some way to go before I make that step up to the first team."