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Rafa Benítez needs to avoid confrontation with Real Madrid's dressing room

Sir Alex Ferguson said that as a young manager one of the first things he learned through his own experiences was not to go deliberately looking for confrontation and Rafa will need to do the same.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Nicholas Rigg wrote a great article in Managing Madrid the other day headed "Will Benitez be able to handle Real Madrid egos?" and made the point that it might be difficult for Rafa to tread the fine line between confrontation and strong management.  Apparently, though, former Liverpool player turned TV pundit Danny Murphy thinks not; saying that it's all likely to end in tears.

Rafa sold Danny Murphy to Charlton Athletic soon after taking over at Liverpool and it sounds as though that's still a sore point for the former Liverpool midfielder.  His reasoning goes back to the time when he played under Rafa at Anfield; and his comments in midweek were reported in the UK Daily Mail and widely quoted thereafter.

Danny feels that with Rafa there can only be one way of dealing with egos in the changing room, and that is ‘my way or the highway'; but the ego challenge at Madrid is yet to come - and that's assuming it ever does.

While paying tribute and wishing Carlo Ancelotti well, Iker Casillas was one of the first of the Real Madrid ‘big hitters' to welcome Rafa (back) to the club and no doubt others have extended the same courtesy but have not yet been quoted in the press.

After all, there's only so many times you can say "welcome to the club," without the phrase quickly becoming yesterday's news; but I would hardly say daggers are drawn after watching the media coverage over the last week.

Spain's national coach Vicente del Bosque came out immediately in the press and publically supported Rafa's appointment; and an endorsement  from someone as respected as del Bosque himself would mean a lot to any Madrilleño coach taking on the job at Real Madrid.

If anything, the challenges Rafa is being reported to face are being raised by personalities in the media or in football who have no connection or involvement with Real Madrid as opposed to those who have an affinity to the club.

It also sounds as though there is still some friction left over between Rafa and Danny Murphy from their Liverpool days although Rafa hasn't made any comment; nor would I think he has any intention of responding either.   He will be more concerned with what's happening in Madrid at the moment instead of rising to any bait in the English press.

Rafa will have enough to address for the time being with his pre-season planning, although I understand that he has been in Liverpool over the last few days so Danny Murphy's comments won't have escaped him.

This isn't the first time Danny Murphy has had a go at Rafa in the press. It was well reported in 2010 that while he was playing with Fulham Murphy called for Rafa to be sacked at a time when things weren't going well for Liverpool; blaming Rafa for selling the best players.

The timing of his remarks didn't go down too well on the Liverpool forums then.  The majority of the Liverpool support still have a lot of time for Rafa Benitez and the reaction to Danny Murphy's latest comments have been mixed.

People in football tend to have long memories though and sometimes time heals old scores and sometimes it doesn't.

On the subject of managing egos, however, I am sure Rafa will go in with a firm hand and will win the respect of the players - if he hasn't done so already based on what has achieved in the game - and will adapt if required but only up to a point.  It's one thing being flexible with players but it soon becomes a totally different situation if you start to concede to too many of their demands.

Players respect strong coaches provided that their managerial skills are demonstrated in a fair manner as opposed to in a dictatorial way.  It would be a mistake for Rafa to go in to Valdebebas on the first day everyone is back in pre-season training and start laying down the law just for the sake of it.

Of course, he'll need to make it clear that he is the one who is in charge from now on but you don't need to do that in an openly antagonistic manner.

Sir Alex Ferguson said that as a young manager one of the first things he learned through his own experiences was not to go deliberately looking for confrontation. "You're going to get it anyway so why make things more difficult for yourself?"

I'm sure Rafa will manage the egos if he has to without any difficulty and if it means "my way or the highway" then so be it.  He's going to be the one in charge and he's not going to lose any sleep over whether he needs to emphasise that fact if the situation arises.

I would think that it's only if he doesn't manage the egos and instead lets the egos manage him that it's likely to end in tears; and I can't see that happening.

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