Rafa Benitez was brutally disposed of by Real Madrid earlier this week. To the outsider, he seems to another casualty of the management merry-go-round at the Spanish club.
While the club have been quick to appoint Zinedine Zidane, it is worthwhile to have a look at the man that lost the job that meant so much to him after the time he spent at the club as a reserves player and youth coach.
The Spaniard is a polarising figure. He is still idolised by many on Merseyside after his reign at Liverpool which saw him manage the club to Champions League and FA Cup glory.
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The same applies at Valencia where he won the La Liga twice and the UEFA Cup. However, he is never one to keep his opinions to himself, leading to public battles with club officials which in the end, prompted his departure from both clubs.
Benitez has had a checkered managerial time of it in the past few years. Stints in Italy with Inter Milan and Napoli had very mixed reviews, while he was a curious appointment at Chelsea, especially as he had regular battles with them in the Champions League during his time at Liverpool.
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Benitez made some less than complimentary comments about the Blues and their fans were quick to remind him of them when he returned to the Stamford Bridge dugout. It was a similar story at Madrid as it felt he was never able to gain the support of the fanbase or players.
The management landscape has changed a great deal over the past five years or so. The pragmatic, attritional style that dominated the European landscape in the previous decade has been overtaken by the "false nine" era. Players that are inflexible have been sent to the back burner, while it is all about fitting into fluid systems.
Younger managers like Pep Guardiola, Diego Simeone, Jurgen Klopp and Frank De Boer have brought new ideas to the table and the rest have attempted to follow, with varying degrees of success. In the Premier League a team like Stoke is a strong case in point.
Having been known as a long ball, physical team, manager Mark Hughes has revitalised the club, bringing in a number of players that are quick and skilful like Bojan Krkic and Xherdan Shaqiri that have basically changed their image. It has also been a renaissance for Hughes, whose reputation was in ruins after a wretched spell at QPR.
The question is whether the older set of managers can do the same. Many of them like to stick to what has worked in the past and not change their ways. It can be deemed as being stubborn by fans and players alike. With managers of the ilk of Benitez and Jose Mourinho all now on the open market, it will be intriguing to see which clubs are interested in them.
Managing a club which could be deemed "smaller" where expectations aren't as high gives these managers the chance to rejuvenate themselves as well as proving they don't need to be bankrolled significantly to be successful.
Benitez was hours away from taking the West Ham job in the offseason, before the opportunity at Real Madrid eventuated. It would have been intriguing to see how successful he could be at a club like the Hammers. Alternatively, he is also not afraid to take some time away from the game like he did after being sacked from Inter Milan.
Despite the flaws in his makeup he has been a good manager, the question is: Where does he go now? If the Gary Neville experiment doesn't go to plan, could a romantic return to Valencia be on the cards?
Would you like your club to be managed by Rafa Benitez in the future?
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