Jose Mourinho insists he has no intention of quitting as Real Madrid coach and does not fear for his job in the wake of Saturday night's defeat to Malaga.
The Primera Division season has not even reached its winter break and Madrid's title defence looks to be in tatters with Mourinho's men now 16 points behind runaway leaders Barcelona following another hugely disappointing night for the champions.
Barca extended their lead earlier in the night with a 3-1 win at Real Valladolid and Madrid were unable to react as they slumped to a 3-2 loss at fourth-placed Malaga.
That was Madrid's fourth league defeat of the campaign and seventh in all competitions this season, which is already more than they suffered in the whole of the last campaign and has seen the pressure build on coach Mourinho.
However, the Portuguese, who took the surprise decision to omit club captain Iker Casillas from his starting line-up tonight, was in defiant mood when asked whether he had considered stepping down.
He told reporters at the post-match press conference: "Neither before, during or after the game have I thought about resigning.
"I don't fear for my position. This is football. I'm not a child, nor have I been here for a couple of days. Coaches know that football has no memory and only takes into account what was done today and not what was done yesterday.
"It doesn't take into account what titles you've won, nor the work you've done, it's all about the now."
Madrid, who on Thursday were paired against Manchester United in the last-16 of the Champions League, dominated the first half against Malaga but could not take advantage and were made to pay as Isco put the hosts ahead just after half-time.
An own goal from Sergio Sanchez levelled the scores up midway through the second period but Malaga substitute Roque Santa Cruz struck twice in three minutes to put the Andalusian side 3-1 up.
Benzema pulled another goal back but it was not enough to save Madrid, whose defeat follows a Copa del Rey fifth-round first-leg loss to Celta Vigo and last weekend's 2-2 home draw with struggling Espanyol in La Liga.
Mourinho said: "We're sad to have lost but the players have done their best. They tried against Espanyol and today, but we didn't have any luck.
"This week off comes at the ideal moment. The players are empty. They have given everything and they haven't been rewarded."
Regarding his selection of Antonio Adan ahead of long-term first-choice goalkeeper Casillas, Mourinho said: "It's a technical decision. The coach analyses the situation, looks at the players at his disposal and chooses his team. At the moment, for me and my coaching staff, Adan is better than Iker.
"You can invent the stories that you want but it's purely a technical decision."
Mourinho conceded last week when Madrid fell 13 points behind Barca that catching the leaders was "practically impossible" and he remains resigned to losing their title.
He said: "Real Madrid were champions last season with a nine-point advantage to second place. This season we are at a distance which, in my opinion, is insurmountable. We have to assume responsibility that we are not having a good season."