Santiago Solari has three games to claim Real Madrid hotseat
Santiago Solari has three games to claim Real Madrid hotseat for himself… the former Galacticos-era star has already drilled ‘cojones’ and attacking into flagging giants
- Santiago Solari has taken temporary charge of Spanish giants Real Madrid
- The former midfielder took charge of his first game on Wednesday evening
- The 42-year-old has three games state his case for taking on role permanently
‘We are all just passing through and even more so in this profession,’ said Santiago Solari at his first press conference. Real Madrid’s 42-year-old coach is philosophical about the job in hand and about the sporting life in general.
He may look like a novice and his coaching CV is short but he is someone who has been immersed in football since birth so no situation really ruffles him.
His father Eduardo was a tough holding midfielder for Rosario Central and played from 1966 to the early 80s. His subsequent management career lasted almost 20 years. Santiago’s uncle Jorge also played and coached professionally and brothers Esteban and David both became players.
Santiago Solari has three games to claim Real Madrid hotseat for himself after taking charge
The former midfielder has been handed the reins at Real Madrid on a caretaker basis
The 42-year-old has been put in charge for next three games after sacking of Julen Lopetegui
Santiago was debuting for River Plate when he was 20 and after moving to Spain he played in Atletico Madrid’s tumultuous relegation season in 1999-2000 when a side that really was too good to go down, went down.
Two years later he assisted the assister when he played the ball to Roberto Carlos who played the ball to Zinedine Zidane who scored one of the greatest ever Champions League goals, in Glasgow as Real Madrid won the trophy.
He lived through the Galatico years frequently dropping to the bench to make way for the expensive imports and just as frequently finding his way back into the team.
He was a big reader as a player and he turned his hand to writing a newspaper column for El Pais once he retired. It was usually excellent and never needed to be ghost written.
The former Argentina star made 131 appearances for Real Madrid between 2000 and 2005
He had a part in one of the Champions League’s most famous goals – Zidane’s in the 2002 final
All that has led to commentators imagining he will be a chin-scratching coach, thoughtfully pondering the virtues of one tactical formation over another while his team are given the runaround on the pitch by less confused opponents.
Perhaps that is why he made sure the stand-out phrase from his first press conference before the Melilla win was ‘We will play with dos cojones’.
‘Cojones’ meaning balls of course, and balls being Solari’s way of killing the idea nice and early that he might be too cerebral for coaching a team in need of something more primal as they look to end a run of five league games and just one point.
Solari was at the Bernabeu in a playing capacity bang slap in the middle of the Galacticos
He looked like he was enjoying himself in the rain on Wednesday. He was on his feet in his technical area throughout the monsoon and he was animated but never with those desperate tearing hair out gesticulations of his predecessor.
Lopetegui’s body language was of a man fighting for his job right from the start. Solari seemed relaxed not fearing the worst with every opponent’s attack.
He knows he will go back to being Real Madrid’s B-team coach if this does not work out across the next two weeks. But with every second that he stands in the head coach’s shoes the more determined he is to stay there.
Insiders say if he stepped into the role out of a sense of duty his competitive edge has now kicked in and he most definitely wants the job.
Solari was an attacking midfielder/winger as a player and he likes his teams to use the flanks well. He played two wingers against Melilla and both full-backs were given orders to attack.
He played for Real’s city rivals Atletico Madrid, spending one season at the Vicente Calderon
Solari began his career in his native Argentina, making his debut for River Plate back in 1996
Alvaro Odriozola set-up the first goal and scored the third, and on the other side Sergio Reguilon crossed eight times from high up the pitch.
He wants a strong two-man holding midfield to allow him the luxury of wingers and attacking full-backs on either side. It will be interesting to see how that pans out in the first team with Luka Modric and Toni Kroos likely partners for Casemiro.
In the press conference after his first win he was bright and breezy, like a breath of fresh air after the post-match appearances from Lopetegui. Solari’s predecessor seemed too scared to say anything remotely controversial.
The new boss will be less cautious and he is lyrical too – telling reporters in Melilla that he didn’t want to put a grade out of 10 on his first match.
‘I didn’t like getting graded at school and I still don’t’, he said. It was pretty much 10 out of 10 for a debut.
Far tougher games will follow but he will take them in his stride knowing that he has been in football all his life and that he will still be in football in a fortnight’s time after his probationary period is over.
The only thing to be decided is if it’s coaching the B-team in the third tier or the senior side in the Champions League.
Solari will be hoping to show he has what it takes to deliver the glory days to Real once more
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