Ex-Liverpool and Norway defender John Arne Riise says Rafa Benitez knew that succeeding at Real Madrid would be a tough job but that is sad it didn’t work out for his former boss.
Benitez was appointed last summer but was sacked just seven months into his contract after concerns over his team’s playing style, performances in big games, and his poor relationship with some of the senior players in the side.
Zinedine Zidane took over as manager in January and although they lost ground on leaders Barcelona at the weekend with the 1-1 draw at Malaga, has yet to taste defeat in eight games.
In an interview with goal.com, Riise, who worked with Benitez at Liverpool and was part of the team that famously won the Champions League in 2005, said he was disappointed it didn’t work out positively.
“He knew that he was going into a tough job. I was very happy when he was appointed as coach of Real Madrid as I admire him a lot. In fact, I am still in contact with him and I also met him last summer, during Madrid’s pre-season tour in Norway. He lost only a few games at Real Madrid, so I was very sad that he was sacked. But it could have been that his playing style was not what was expected of Real Madrid,” he stated.
Riise was also asked for his thoughts on Martin Odegaard and what sort of advice he would give him as a young player at one of the world’s biggest clubs.
He commented: “First of all, it is important to have people around you who believe in you. His father always helps him to make the right decision. Moreover, when you get to know him, he seems older than he is. He thinks with such maturity – despite being still a teenager. Naturally, people expect a lot from him since he plays for Real Madrid, but I think he can be successful in the near future, especially for Norway.”