Benitez talks up Madrid unity after Clasico humbling


Real Madrid coach Rafael Benitez insists his squad is united in the aftermath of their Clasico humiliation against Barcelona.

Madrid's bitter rivals left the Santiago Bernabeu with all three points after a resounding 4-0 victory on Saturday, during which considerable discontent was voiced from the stands by the home supporters.

Club president Florentino Perez hosted a hastily arranged news conference on Monday to state his backing for Benitez.

Perez also dismissed reports star forward Cristiano Ronaldo was seeking to leave Madrid amid an alleged poor relationship with his coach, the president claiming the rumours are "an attempt to destabilise the club".

Speaking at a media briefing ahead of the Champions League match away to Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday, Benitez acknowledged the support shown to him by Perez and reported a display of unity at a team meeting - with his players apparently committed to turning their fortunes around.

Benitez said: "We are all united. I have heard the support from the board of directors and from the president.

"We've spoken between the players and myself. It is the players and myself that have to sort things out on the football pitch."

The defeat to Barcelona was Madrid's second consecutive loss in La Liga, having gone down 3-2 at Sevilla prior to that.

A 14-match unbeaten run in all competitions preceded the first competitive defeats of Benitez's tenure and the former Liverpool and Napoli boss was keen to look at the bigger picture.

"I think we have a great team, great players and because of this we went 14 games unbeaten," he said.

"It is clear that we've lost a couple of games and the last game against Barcelona, which was a very important game, didn't go well.

"We've got great desire to put it right and we want to get out and work as hard as we possibly can to win as many games a possible going into the future."

Benitez added: "These two defeats don't change the sensation that we have in the team - that we are learning and growing.

"We want to try and recover the good sensations that we have as a team but the work and the commitment and the effort that we put in won't change

"We want to work hard until the end of the season to give the fans as much happiness as we can."

Asked if he thought the players still supported him, Benitez added: "Of course I do. If they didn't we wouldn't have gone 14 games unbeaten. The fact we only needed four games to qualify for the knockout stage of the Champions League shows the shape were in.

"Obviously we've had one or two problems in the past few games but we need to stick together to keep moving forward. The group has a great deal of quality, lots of professionalism, we are all moving in the same direction to make sure we win games.

"We're in November and our objectives remain the same. We want to achieve at least one of those objectives, if not all of them."

Benitez admitted he was "hurt" by the result on Saturday.

"It was great to feel the love of the fans when we arrived [in Ukraine]," he said. "I was hurt by the game last weekend but I've got plenty of enthusiasm looking forward to the games to come.

"I'm hurting because I am a Madridista and I don't like to lose any game. I don't like to lose against Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"We have a team who see the criticism in the press but whatever I do, there will always be someone who has a go.

"I will do the best possible job for the fans. It's clear that some people don't have the same interests as Real Madrid.

"The team is working hard on all levels, this is without doubt. Sometimes news comes out that clearly isn't true but this is normal. We have to focus on the daily work, the future.  I am optimistic and we have the capacity in this team to turn it around."

Benitez denied suggestions the Clasico setback was due to a poor attitude from his players.

"It clearly wasn't a lack of a positive attitude," he said. "There is no doubt about the attitude of the players in this team. The analysis was internal and will remain internal.

"The board have given their support, we are united and we will try to achieve our objectives."