Real Madrid coach Rafa Benítez gave his first press conference of the New Year in Valdebebas and previewed tomorrow’s clash with Valencia at Mestalla.
Patience: "I’ve said on many other occasions that it will be at the end of the season when we can evaluate how things have gone – and that particularly concerns the competition which requires consistency, which is the league. That’s what counts. We need peace and serenity to be able to get the results that we all want".
Performing levels of James and Isco: "I’m not going to talk about individuals. What I’m talking about is the sensations within madridismo. We lack consistency and we can only achieve it through hard work. The fans have always applauded the team’s idols - Camacho, Juanito, Santillana... and that’s what I hope for in every home game we play. I want our players to give 100 per cent like those players did. We have done so in some games but in others, we have switched off. The first person who needs to improve in that department is me. We need to keep working hard so that the results come our way. We’ve done a lot which doesn’t get recognition – we are in the Champions League and we¡re still alive in the league title race. At Mestalla, the players have to give 100 per cent, that’s what I want to see from all of them".
What’s behind the team’s tendency to switch off? "It’s not a question of heavy legs. If we were able to put in an exception second half in Villarreal it means that it is not down to weary legs. It’s for the characteristics of our team. We are an attacking side and that means we have to manage the game. When we don’t have the ball, we suffer. We also need to pull out that term which I used when I first arrived and which Ancelotti always used: equilibrium. Sometimes we lack the sacrifice need to react. I’m sure that the players themselves are aware of it and I know that they will give 100 per cent to gain consistency and be able to fight for the league and the Champions League".
Tomorrow’s game in Valencia: "Out of our away games, I was happy with our first half performances against Atleti and at San Mamés – or even against Eibar, in which the team was exceptional. In the Champions League, the PSG tie was an example of how we should be playing. Tomorrow’s game at Mestalla will be emotional for me. Valencia didn’t lose there during 2015 and Madrid suffered in last season’s meeting. I am still very grateful to Valencia, to the club and to the fans. I hope they get behind their team. I am very grateful for the way I was treated during my time there and for everything they gave me".
James: "Of course we have spoken about what is, in effect, a private matter. James is a good lad and he is a serious-minded person. There’s nothing more to say on the subject. I repeat that this is a private matter. He has given us his account and the only thing we can do now is wait and not judge".
Will you continue if the team fails to pick up all three points tomorrow? "I’ll stress what I have already said. I am confident that we will win and that you will have to ask me that question again in the next two or three years".