Real Madrid coach Rafael Benitez lashed out Tuesday at what he called a media "campaign" against him and the club, insisting that reports of a crisis were overblown ahead of Wednesday's La Liga game against Real Sociedad.
Speculation over Benitez's position has been rife in the Spanish media, with Real's reserve team coach Zinedine Zidane touted as leading contender to take over, following three defeats in six league games as well as the club's expulsion from the Copa del Rey.
"It's clear that there's a campaign against (club president) Florentino (Perez), against Real Madrid and and the coach of Real Madrid," Benitez told a news conference.
"Everything which is open to criticism gets criticised. And for what is not, it's managed, it's invented, it's manipulated. It's obvious."
Benitez, 55, said he would draw upon his three decades of coaching experience to help steer Real back on course, but said the situation was not as bleak as is being made out.
"We're qualified for the Champions League (knockout phase) and are two points behind the league leaders, which is the truth, because Barcelona haven't played their game in hand yet," said Benitez.
"When things aren't going too well...you have to concentrate on your job, try to win the next game and lay the foundations to win the following ones as well."
Asked about a recent poll conducted by Real Madrid supporters regarding who would be their preferred coach, which included the likes of Jose Mourinho and Zidane, Benitez downplayed its significance, saying it was a survey carried out each month.
"The interest of the media to publish this information is part of this ongoing manipulation," said Benitez, who added that he had the backing of the club's president.
"The relationship is a normal and cordial one. I've been a coach for 30 years, I know we must do things well and win."