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Raphael Benitez's Relationship with players not good at Real Madrid

Player power seems alive and kicking at Real Madrid after Rafa Benitez was pressured into calling Sergio Ramos to explain comments he made about the player after Sunday’s Madrid derby draw.
Benitez had been asked after the game if any of the mistakes had particularly upset him and he bemoaned Ramos’ moment of madness in the first half that saw him give the ball away and then recover only to fly into a tackle in the area and concede a penalty. 
‘What upset me the most was the Ramos error when he gives the ball away by taking an unnecessary risk,’ the coach said.

Ramos responded to the criticism two days later when he met up with the Spain squad for international duty and said: ‘We could talk about my mistake or we could talk about the substitutions that were made in the game. We all learn from our mistakes, players and coaches.’ 
It was a reference to Benitez taking goalscorer Karim Benzema off in the second half and it was a clear message to Benitez – bury me in public and I’ll bury you too.
Benitez called Ramos on Wednesday to smooth things over telling him that there had been no malice in his comments and he was merely answering a question – albeit with an ill-advised lack of tact.

Ramos joins Cristiano Ronaldo and Benzema on the list of dressing room heavyweights that Benitez has had run-ins with in his first two months in charge – wounds that will quickly heal over if Real can pull away from Barcelona’s walking wounded at the top of the table; but there is no sign of that happening at the moment. 
Real are unbeaten but they have drawn three games of the opening seven – that’s six points dropped already.
Benzema could argue that under Benitez he is enjoying his best form for over a year but he has been taken off in six of his eight starts this season and he was not happy about it happening at the Vicente Calderon on Sunday having put his team ahead. ‘The substitution? You had better ask the manager,’ was his reply to questions post-match about being replaced by midfielder Mateo Kovacic.

Benitez's fall-out with Ronaldo at the start of the season seems to have set the tone. At first he said Ronaldo was ‘one of the best’ players in the world instead of 'the best' and he was then embroiled in more controversy when he refused to name Ronaldo as the best player he had ever coached. 
In the build-up to the Champions League group game against Shakthar Dontetsk he said: ‘I cannot say Ronaldo is the best I have ever coached because I have had some very good players.’
The answer left Spanish reporters and Madrid supporters scratching their heads as to who of the players he had managed, Benitez might believe was a better player than the three-times Ballon d’Or winner who is now Real Madrid’s all-time top scorer.
Benitez has since said that he speaks with Ronaldo every day and that the two have a healthy relationship. But the Real Madrid players that last summer tweeted their displeasure at Carlo Ancelotti’s sacking have not warmed to a manager who succeeded at Valencia and at Liverpool where there were far fewer superstar players to fall out with.

One player who was less upset by Ancelotti’s departure was Gareth Bale who didn't like the way the Italian coach seemed to overload him with defensive responsibilities in the second half of the season playing him wide right of a 4-4-2. He is now back in a front three with plenty of license and liberty to attack and he seems happy. But Bale has also been used as a stick to beat Benitez with by his critics.
Ahead of Wales’ crucial qualifier with Bosnia he said: ‘It was good to get some minutes under my belt for Madrid at the weekend.’ 
It was a harmless comment but some have painted the picture of a player who sees his club football as a mere warm-up to his international games and have criticized Benitez for not picking the former Tottenham man from the start at the weekend. 
Had Benitez done that it would have been at the expense of another forward and he would still have left himself open to accusations of favouritism. Benitez can't win at the moment but his team needs to if these rumblings are not to escalate.
Real Madrid are at home to Levante when La Liga returns but then the fixture list gets a little more daunting. They play Paris Saint-Germain twice in the Champions League; go away to in-form Celta Vigo who are third in the table, visit Sevilla and entertain Barcelona. Such a run will make or break Benitez’s currently fragile bond with his players

Sphamandla Ntshokotsha

Sphamandla Ntshokotsha

Staff writter

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