MADRID, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) — Real Madrid’s 5-0 win away to Viktoria Plzen on Wednesday night strengthened the case for interim coach Santiago Solari being given the job on a permanent basis. A win away to Celta Vigo on Sunday will probably secure him the position until at least the end of the season.
It is only 10 days since Solari was promoted from the Real Madrid B-team (Real Madrid Castilla) to the first team to replace the sacked Julen Lopetegui.
He has been in charge for three games: a 4-0 Copa del Rey win away to Melilla, a 2-0 Liga Santander victory at home to Valladolid and Wednesday’s victory in the Czech Republic.
Although it’s easy to get carried away by wins against a side in the third tier of the Spanish game, a team newly promoted to the Spanish top-flight, who were unlucky to lose in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, and the weakest team in Madrid’s Champions League group, the overall signs are positive.
Both Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale were back among the goals in Plzen, while Madrid haven’t conceded a goal since Solari took over.
The general mood around the club has also changed from the tension and uncertainty which surrounded Lopetegui’s last games in charge to one of cautious optimism.
Solari’s numbers as the coach of Castilla were far from spectacular. Indeed, last season he was in danger of being sacked as they finished eighth in their group of Segunda B (third tier of Spanish football) and failed to make the play-offs for promotion to the second division.
This season Castilla are currently fifth, again outside of the play-offs, despite having been able to field 45 million euro (1 euros =1.14 US dollars) forward Vinicius Jr in several matches.
However, Zinedine Zidane’s results at Castilla were not outstanding either, and he led Real Madrid to the last three Champions League titles. That success was mainly due to his ability to manage the dressing room and win the support of the players and if that is a key factor in Solari getting the job, the Argentinean looks to be well placed.
Speaking to the press on Wednesday night, Brazilian midfielder Casemiro gave his cautious support to Solari, saying “We don’t know if someone else is going to come, but we have a lot of respect for Solari and if things are going well, why not give him the chance?”
Karim Benzema was more forceful in his message commenting that “Solari has to stay until the end of the season,” while Alvaro Odriozola said Solari was “an excellent coach, who was also a very good player. We focus on our work with him and right now we are behind him all the way.”
Bearing that in mind, Sunday in Vigo will be a decisive day for the future of both Solari and Real Madrid.