Santiago Solari – Not many would have predicted the capitulation that was to befall UEFA Champions League holders, Real Madrid, following the appointment of former Spain coach, Julien Lopetegui, as manager. The ex la Roja boss was appointed manager of the Santiago Bernabeu landlords, following the surprise resignation of consecutive UEFA Champions league winner, Zinedine Zidane. The appointment of the Spanish coach was widely talked about, after the news broke out days before the 2018 World Cup, that he was to lead the Los Blancos into the 2018/19 season.
And barely four months into the new season, the hierarchy at the capital club let the Spanish manager go, following consecutive poor results that left Real Madrid far adrift of main competitor, Fc Barcelona.
Following Lopetegui’s sack, former Argentina and Real Madrid player, Santiago Solari, was immediately tasked with the project of interim manager. The Argentine was to stand in place to hold down the forte, for when they appointed a more experienced tactician on a permanent basis. Or so we thought!
The rookie coach, who had initially been with the Real Madrid team B, was promoted from within on an initial interim basis, but after talks broke down with Antonio Conte the Argentine was given a prolonged spell to make his case. Four matches down the line- four wins from four- and he seemed to have impressed and convinced Florentino Perez enough to be considered for the job on a long-term basis.
However, following the disaster at the Ipurua Municipal stadium, where the Sergio Ramos skippered team lost 3-0 to Eibar, questions have begun to be asked about the capability of the coach, who had earned himself a deal at the club till June 2021.
Was he hurriedly appointed?
Real Madrid, as a football club and business enterprise, has a penchant for hiring and firing. Players come and go, and so do coaches and technical staff too. Over the years, this as acted as some sort of motivation, as everyone at the club is expected to be at a certain level or risk being axed. Specifically speaking, they’ve had a track record of hiring coaches who have gone on to win laurels for the club. After Jose Mourinho and Ancelloti left, Zinedine Zidane orchestrated the side that won a record three consecutive UCL title.
But a careful analysis into the successes that these different managers have enjoyed would reveal that before they were appointed, there was some sort of evaluation done. The pros and cons were weighed. The club’s management didn’t just rush into making managerial appointments. Well, not until recently.
Real Madrid preyed on the already frosty situation with Julien Lopetegui and the Spanish FA, causing an irreparable falling out between both parties. Fourteen matches into his Madrid career and he was axed. Although not exactly the same, the situation that brought in Solari wasn’t typically a decent one either.
Is He Who Madrid needs?
The case of Real Madrid appointing Solari as head coach, over Antonio Conte, is a pure case of the available becoming the desirable.
Italian manager, Conte, had been rumored to be the next manager in the Bernabeu dugout, only for the club to make a U-turn and appoint Solari as manager until the end of the season.
Reports had it that the former Juventus and Chelsea manager had turned down the chance of coaching the La Liga side, but it may all be down to the fact that he wasn’t properly motivated. The club wanted him on an interim basis, but the manager didn’t want that
“Real Madrid? As I see it, it is better to wait until the end of the season than to take a train running now,” he told Sky Italia.
“I want to wait for June and start again with a new project. In three months I could change my mind and deny everything, but I’ve always thought of it this way.”
The way forward
It is still expected that the Bernabeu club will make a strong play for Mauricio Pochettino of Tottenham next summer, but how deeply rottened would the club have been by that time. The fact remains that the former Madrid player is not a tried and tested coach. He has not had any coaching experience, except for with the Madrid Castilla team, which quite frankly is not enough.
Many would make the argument that a certain Zinedine Zidane came from coaching obscurity to achieve what he did with Madrid, but he wasn’t a total novice like Santiago Solari. Zizou had been assistant to Carlo Ancelotti for a couple of seasons, and he must have learnt the rudiments from the great Italian manager.
And when Eibar hosted the Real Madrid, on Saturday, at the Ipurua Municipal stadium, his inexperience was laid to bare for all to see.
Is it too early to judge?
Haven argued that Santiago Solari was a choice hurriedly made, a school of thought would actually preach ‘patience’. After all, didn’t a certain Pep Guardiola come from the second team at the rival club, Barcelona, to be one of the best in the world at the moment?
We at naijmobile would like to have your take.