Real lose Perez but won’t gain Benitez

The decision by Florentino Perez to resign as president of Real Madrid means Liverpool fans are almost certainly going to have to endure more headlines about the future of boss Rafael Benitez. Perez will be replaced in the short-term by vice-president Fernando Martin but no doubt there will be manoeuvres to replace him with another name. Any potential candidates will want to use whatever promises they can to help them get in. This is where Liverpool come in.

Rafael Benitez is a big name in Spain, his success with Valencia added to even more after the European Cup win with Liverpool. Real are going to try and tempt him one way or another, and as he’s a former Real man anyway he might just be persuaded. At least that’s how the speculation will pan out. Rafa has been enjoying the freedom to choose his own players at Anfield so much that the last thing he would seem to want is to move to a club where players are bought regardless of need and are expected to be found a place in the side. Michael Owen is the one exception to that rule, he was rarely played as much as he could have been – but Raul’s relationship with Perez was as much to blame for that as anything else.

Perez has resigned because Real are playing so badly. They are out of
the Spanish Cup, too far off the pace in the league, an away goal down
in the Champions League. They were beaten at the weekend and haven’t
won anything since 2003, so Perez decided to make himself a martyr for
the good of Real. He said after his announcement: “We have a squad of
great players, but some of them think they have a guaranteed place and
that they are the best. They are confused.”

It’s Perez that has been responsible for the big-money signings at
Real, absolute fortunes being spent on Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane,
Ronaldo and David Beckham. He’s now realised that buying big names but
allowing key positions to be left without any quality doesn’t bring
success: “We have constructed a great squad but some of the players
have got mixed up. I want to capture their attention through my
resignation so that they understand that all that matters is Real
Madrid. I don’t regret bringing the best players in the world to this
club, but perhaps I wasn’t able to make them understand the importance
of their responsibilities, maybe I have educated them badly. Perhaps my
departure is necessary to unblock the situation.”

Perez says he didn’t resign in a snap decision: “My decision has been
made in order to help Real Madrid. It was carefully considered and I
believe that it is an act of responsibility.” He was re-elected as
president in summer 2004.

Rafael Benitez enjoys the position he has at Anfield, a position not
found in Spanish football. In Spain Rafa would only be coaching the
players, not negotiating to buy new ones or to keep existing ones. He’s
got long-term plans at the club and Real, tempting as they might be,
will find it difficult to poach him right now, which is great news for
the Liverpool fans.