After a therapeutic victory in the Copa del Rey, hard work begins for Real Madrid with provisional coach Santiago Solari, who will try to straighten out the club’s sluggish campaign in La Liga on Saturday in a home game against Real Valladolid.
Solari, who played as a midfielder in the team, has been in charge of Castilla, Madrid’s subsidiary, since 2016 and has temporarily gone up to take charge of the first team after an unfortunate Julen Lopetegui was dismissed as coach of the first team after a humiliating 5-1 defeat on Sunday at Barcelona.
Solari has been entrusted with the task of resurrecting the European champions, who are currently ninth in the standings and without a win in the competition since 22 September.
The new coach got off to an encouraging start with a 4-0 King’s Cup win over Second Division B club Melilla on Wednesday.
“The team played with joy, enthusiasm, and commitment. The result is the result of that. It wasn’t easy, but we worked on it and played with those characteristics,” said Solari after the victory in the Spanish colony on the Moroccan coast.
However, his team will face a much greater challenge against Valladolid – a club owned by former Madrid forward and Brazil’s Ronaldo – who are still undefeated in their last six league matches.
Under the regulation of the Spanish Football Federation, Real President Florentino Perez has until November 12 to find a permanent successor for Lopetegui and it is unclear whether he is willing to continue searching after negotiations failed with Antonio Conte, who was Chelsea and Italy coach.
Solari, whose father was a well-known footballer and coach in Argentina, was known as one of the more cerebral players in the Madrid dressing room during the so-called ‘Galactico’ era in the early 2000s. He was once spotted reading German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in the dressing room.
However, he broke with his intellectual image in his first press conference before the match with Melilla, giving a speech more typical of his compatriot Diego Simeone when he declared: “We need to go there and play with a pair of balls.”
If Solari manages to return Madrid to winning ways against Valladolid, he will be taking a step in the right direction towards getting the job on a permanent basis.
Madrid defender Nacho Fernandez gave the coach a provisional approval.
“Solari has worked at the club for a long time,” he said, adding that Solari is “a man of the house, with experience, who has won many titles here at Real Madrid.