Benitez told The Times: "Pako was much more than a physical trainer, he was my friend and someone I trusted for many years. I worked with him for 11 years. It's a recent wound that still hurts.
"Logically, this has an effect on a team. The people that arrived had to adapt and familiarise themselves with a new environment. This meant that a transitional period started at the club, but we still managed to win games and play well. Then, when we started to draw games, people questioned our work.
"I believe that no one is irreplaceable and we have to keep moving forward. Paco de Miguel took over the role as physical trainer. Also, as a result, I have more of a presence around the team and try to have more involvement with the players."