Rafael Benitez was given the boot by Real Madrid just seven months into his job at the Santiago Bernabeu, and this could be something that could seriously undermine the credentials of the manager.
After a few promising years at Valencia CF and Liverpool FC, Benitez was billed as one of the top managers in Europe. He has also won La Liga, UEFA Cup (with Valencia CF), Champions League, FA Cup (with Liverpool FC), FIFA Club World Cup (Inter Milan), Europa League (Chelsea FC), and the Coppa Italia (Napoli).
However, the Spaniard has not really been a fan favourite at most of these clubs barring Valencia CF and Liverpool FC, and this is something that could plague him for the rest of his career. As of now, there are only a few options left for Benitez to try and regain his lost pride. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Stamford Bridge is probably the least likely of options for the 55-year-old, but it is an option nonetheless. Benitez was the interim manager at Chelsea FC in the 2012/13 season, when they won the UEFA Europa League — not exactly a competition that the Blues are expected to be in. Benitez was an unpopular figure during his reign at Chelsea FC, and was often booed by the fans who remembered the sharp words that the Spaniard had for the West Londoners when he himself was at Liverpool FC.
Chelsea FC have recently sacked their fan favourite Jose Mourinho, and have appointed Guus Hiddink as their interim manager. They would definitely be looking for a new manager in the summer of 2016, and Benitez (should he be free at that time) could be an interesting option for them. One thing is for sure though — it would take a great many number of wins for Benitez to win over the Chelsea faithful.
After the fat paycheques at Real Madrid, Manchester City could end up being a likely destination for Benitez. The team is not really in the best of forms at the moment, sliding three points off from the top of the table. Also, the fact that the Citizens have not been very convincing with their performances of late, is something that has been putting manager Manuel Pellegrini under a lot of pressure. In fact, Manchester City are reportedly looking for a new manager for the next season. Although most of the current rumours suggest Pep Guardiola is the prime target for Manchester City, Rafael Benitez could well be the perfect man for the job at the Etihad Stadium.
Swansea City AFC
The Swans are certainly not flying high this season, being pegged back near the relegation zone, rather than challenging for the European spots. It’s been some time since they fired their former captain and manager Gary Monk, but they have not named a long term replacement yet. Caretaker manager Alan Curtis has been handling things, while chairman Huw Jenkins looks for a suitable manager.
Benitez could certainly be the perfect man for the job, bringing in his wealth of top-level experience into the Welsh club. Swansea City could be seen as a bit of a step down for Benitez after his stint at Real Madrid, but it might just be the perfect club, away from all the limelight, for him to make a fresh start to his career by helping the Swans soar higher than ever. Rafa might want to take a look at Claudio Ranieri’s career trajectory, before rejecting an offer from Swansea (if any).
Rudi Garcia has been under immense pressure at AS Roma, and there is constant speculation about his future at the club. With Roma at the 5th position on the La Liga table, it might just be a matter of time before Garcia gets the boot. Although Roma managed to end their pathetic seven-game winless run with a 2-0 victory over Genoa, failure to turn things around in the second half of the season might mean instant dismissal.
This is where Benitez might just find his chance. He has had two previous tries at Italian clubs, and has not exactly been successful with the proceedings, but perhaps Rafa might feel that he could get third-time lucky in the Serie A.
Benitez is one of the most revered figures at Los Che, and could find himself back at the Mestalla at the start of the next season, if Gary Neville does not impress the owners at the club. Valencia CF have also been in poor form, and manager Neville is yet to get his first win in La Liga, but there has been a marked improvement in their performance. However, if he can’t offer positive results, Los Che might as well be saying goodbye to Neville, whose contract expires in summer 2016.
The Valencia CF faithful absolutely love Benitez, who had won two La Liga and a UEFA Cup title with the side. If Neville proves to be a failed experiment, Los Che could well turn back to one of their old heroes, in a bid to bring the glory days back to the Mestalla.