Skip to main content

Wenger supports Benitez amid Real pressure

Arsene Wenger has offered his backing to under-pressure Real Madrid boss Rafael Benitez.

Following a solid start to his time in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu this season, Benitez faced fury from the stands as bitter rivals Barcelona thrashed his team 4-0 in Saturday's Clasico.

Madrid president Florentino Perez has called a press conference for Monday evening, where reports in Spain suggest he will offer Benitez a vote of confidence amid growing calls for him to be sacked.

Wenger holds Benitez in high regard having come up against him regularly during the Spaniard's six-year stint as Liverpool manager.

The Frenchman said Madrid would expose themselves as "not serious" if they sack Benitez so soon into his tenure and stated he would be reluctant to work under similar conditions.

"I would just like to take this opportunity to support completely Rafa, who is an outstanding manager," he told a news conference ahead of Arsenal's must-win Champions League match versus Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday.

"It would not be serious to sack the manager after 12 [league] games.

"I hope he gets the support of the president. No one should bet on me to become the next [Real Madrid] manager."

Three defeats from four Champions League matches to date mean Wenger has enough problems of his own following a 2-1 Premier League loss to West Brom on Saturday.

Even victories over Dinamo and Olympiacos from their final two Group F matches might not be enough to preserve their place in Europe's top competition, and Wenger must tackle this latest assignment after Francis Coquelin was ruled out with a knee injury – the holding midfielder joining a lengthy list of absentees.

"We've been hit very hard in November because, until the Sheffield Wednesday game in the League Cup, we had a good record but since have lost a few players," he said.

"We have [Aaron] Ramsey and maybe [Alex] Oxlade-Chamberlain back for the weekend and [Theo] Walcott will be the next one - all the other players are long-term injuries."

Dinamo will be unable to call upon Arijan Ademi after the midfielder was banned for four years due to failing a drugs test following September's 2-1 win over Arsenal.

"I don't want to speculate too much on the career of a player but he's been punished," Wenger added.

"There are two things about that game - our performance on the day and the fact that they had a doped player.

"But we only focus on our performances and we need to put in a different performance tomorrow."