Football: Real Madrid president gives manager Rafael Benitez vote of confidence

Real Madrid manager Rafael Benitez paces on the sidelines.
Real Madrid manager Rafael Benitez paces on the sidelines. PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID (AFP) - Real Madrid president Florentino Perez on Monday gave under-fire coach Rafael Benitez his full backing, just two days after a smarting 4-0 home defeat to arch rivals Barcelona.

"The coach Rafael Benitez has our full support and confidence. He was picked for his professionalism, his achievements, his experience and his ability," said Perez.

Perez, 68, acknowledged "we had a very bad match" against Barcelona, saying he "understood the anger of the fans," but insisted: "let him (Benitez) work, the victories will come".

Perez said he had spoken with Benitez, 55, immediately after the game and given him his backing, and denied he had received requests from players to sack the coach.

"He has a good relationship with the players and he has a good relationship with the board and with me," Perez added.

Former Liverpool and Chelsea manager Benitez has only been in charge for 16 games, but back-to-back defeats now leave Madrid six points behind Barcelona in the title race.