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Rafa Benitez sacked at Real Madrid as players force him out

SoccerBy Sunday World
Benitez lasted a little over half a season at Real Madrid
Benitez lasted a little over half a season at Real Madrid

Rafael Benitez's time as Real Madrid head coach has come to an end, with Zinedine Zidane appointed as the club's new head coach.

Real Madrid President Florentino Perez appears to have been losing faith with Benitez in recent weeks, with increasing media speculation over the future of the former Liverpool manager building amid suggestions of dressing room unrest.

That led to official confirmation from Perez that he had sacked Benitez as he hosted a press conference on Monday evening.

Benitez's suggestion that there was a conspiracy to undermine him was one of his final attempts to avoid what became his inevitable departure, with Sunday's 2-2 draw against Valencia the final straw for Perez.

Benitez joined Real Madrid after leaving Napoli last summer, but a 4-0 defeat in the first El Clasico of the season against Barcelona in November put him on the brink of the sack.

Perez gave Benitez a vote of confidence on that occasion, but a lack of support for his methods from within his own dressing room appears to have been the final straw for Bernabeu chiefs, with the coach who has long pined to become Real Madrid boss now coming to terms with a rapid fall from grace.

Star man Cristaino Ronaldo is among those who is believed to have struggled to adapt to Benitez's methods, with the appointment of Zidane appearing to end specualtion that Jose Mourinho could make a return to the club in the near future.

Mourinho is reported to have been offered the chance to replace Benitez in recent days, but the coach who led Real Madrid to the Spanish title in 2012 is believed to be keen to stay in England and continues to be linked with a move to Manchester United.