During his first official press conference as Real Madrid’s new head coach, Rafael Benitez outlined his desires to win titles at the Bernabeu, and history suggests those hopes have a fine chance of materialising sooner rather than later.
“It’s an emotional day returning here to my home,” Benítez said. “I have a good technical team behind me and I hope things go well, that we win titles and the team plays well.”
Perhaps an important caveat to flag up is that on the continent it’s safe to assume ‘titles’ refer to any major piece of silverware, not just the top honour in Spain.
While there is nothing revelatory about these aspirations, Real fans can take great comfort in the fact that the homecoming Madrid native has his sights set on immediate success.
Indeed, Rafa’s track record of delivering trophies early in his tenure can most accurately be described as exemplary.
This certainly hasn’t been lost on the odds compilers at bwin.com, who pay homage to Rafa’s debut-season prowess, labelling it an 11/20 shot that he lifts at least one of the three major pieces of silverware that he will be competing for in 2015/16.
After some initial troubles cutting his teeth in management away from the comfort of Real Madrid’s B team and youth set-ups, Benitez began forging a reputation as a genuine impact coach.
He achieved debut-season promotions at Segunda Division outfits Extremadura and Tenerife, before hitting the big time in some style at Valencia.
Rafa secured the club’s first Spanish title in 31 years during an amazing baptism at the Mestalla during the 2001/02 season.
Trophies of one description or another have been stockpiled in Benitez’s initial season at four subsequent European big guns in the intervening decade since he left Valencia and arrived back where it all began.
There’s the unforgettable Champions League victory which instantly wrote Benitez into Liverpool folklore in 2005, followed by a slightly-less heralded Supercoppa Italiana and FIFA Club World Cup double after taking the Inter reins in 2010.
Latterly, this mantle has been continued with arguably the most unappreciated Europa League triumph in history as interim Chelsea boss, and latterly when scooping the Coppa Italia at previous club Napoli.
More optimistic Madridistas are offered 15/1 on a league and Champions League double, while 40/1 is the nominated price to emulate either of rivals Barcelona or Juventus’ achievements this season, with the golden treble.