Reports in Spain say the atmosphere has become strained on the training pitch during the club’s pre-season tour of Australia, but Benitez has played down talk of tension between the two and described the Portuguese forward as ‘the best in the world’.
Benitez took over at the Bernabeu from Carlo Ancelotti last month, and former Everton and England defender Hinchcliffe believes his stay in the Spanish capital may be short-lived if he cannot get the dressing room on side.
Speaking to Sky Sports News HQ, Hinchcliffe said: “There is only going to be one winner and that is Cristiano Ronaldo. He wasn’t happy when Ancelotti left the club he liked working with Ancelotti and he liked the man was Ancelotti was. The problem is that Real Madrid did not win anything last season, they fell short, Barcelona dominated and that has to change.
“So Benitez has been brought in; he’s a very good manager, a very experienced manager but when you have got superstars – and that’s what Ronaldo is – and if he starts throwing his weight around saying he’s not happy with the training sessions or where I’m playing or the team selection, then Real Madrid will have a major problem this season.
“This used to happen 20 years ago and it still happens today. Managers are reliant on the character of their superstar players. If you look at Barcelona, those players give themselves up for the good of the team, for the good of the manager. They are selfless.”
Benitez’s struggle to keep his squad happy will only be exacerbated by dissension in the ranks, and the former Liverpool manager needs the backing of Ronaldo in order to win that battle, according to Hinchcliffe.
He said: “Ronaldo maybe has to give himself up a little bit more for the team. The problem is that Ronaldo and Gareth Bale like to play in the same position, down the left-hand side. Ultimately, Ronaldo is the first name on that team-sheet meaning Bale has to make do with playing out of position on the right-hand side.”
“I’d be surprised if Rafa Benitez stays more than one season because things tend to change at clubs like Real Madrid when they don’t win things. He has to win la Liga to stay in the job.”
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