Madrid: Reports merging from Spain yesterday claimed that Real Madrid have sacked manager Rafa Benitez after just six months in the job.
According to Spanish daily Marca, the Spanish giants have fired their manager after an emergency meeting in Madrid last evening.
The La Liga club's president Florentino Perez is said to have dismissed the Spaniard following an emergency board meeting. Consequently, France legend Zinedine Zidane is allegedly set to take over, claimed the newspaper report. Zidane has been in charge of the Real's 'B' team. The club however, declined to comment.
Madrid twice threw away the lead in drawing 2-2 away to Valencia on Sunday to leave Benitez's men four points adrift of local rivals Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga.
Real are currently third in the standings, and have after suffered three league defeats this season, including an embarrassing 0-4 home defeat to arch-rivals Barcelona. Real also trail eternal rivals Barcelona by two points having played a game more. Benitez had replaced Italian Carlo Ancelotti in June.
Some other reports however suggested that Benitez was on the verge of being sacked. It may be recalled that the appointment of the former Liverpool and Chelsea manager in June wasn't a popular one with either fans or the club's star players, who had voiced their desire for his sacked predecessor Carlo Ancelotti to stay.
Then, a run of three league defeats in five games in November and December, wiped away the early credit Benitez had gained with an unbeaten 14-game run to start his reign. Further embarrassment was to follow when Madrid were thrown out of the Copa del Rey for fielding an ineligible player last month.
Benitez's relationship with the dressing room has also failed to improve with key players such as Karim Benzema and James Rodriguez often showing their disgust at being substituted.