Real Madrid have sacked Rafa Bnitez just six months after he was appointed by the club.

The former Valencia, Liverpool and Chelsea boss has endured a tough season at the Bernabeu since taking over in June, and while he finds his side just four points behind league leaders Atletico, he has had fallouts with key players and been criticised for a defensive style of football.

Benitez received backing from president Florentino Perez last November, shortly after Madrid were defeated 4-0 at home by Barcelona in the first of this season’s clasico fixtures. However, despite that vote of confidence, the 55-year-old has now been shown the door.

Zinedine Zidane – the coach of Real Madrid’s second team, Castilla – is expected to take over. A press conference has been called for 16:30 (bst) on Monday, at which Zidane is expected to be unveiled as the new man in charge.

Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane is expected to be named the new Real Madrid manager later today.

The Frenchman is understood to prefer to take charge at the end of the season, but with the departure of Benitez, he is expected to take the reins six months ahead of schedule.

Benitez’s final match in charge was on Sunday when ten-men Real were held to a 2-2 draw by Gary Neville’s Valencia.

In what has been a disappointing campaign for the club, Real were also thrown out of the Kings Cup after they fielded an inelgible player in their tie with Cadiz.