With no other option, Real Madrid called on Santiago Solari to become their next manager – luckily the Argentinean might be the perfect fit for El Presidente
Early on Monday, the machinery was ready and the paperwork was swiftly filled. No pictures, no official statement released. Nothing.
The formalities were performed in a surprisingly low-profile way. Once the contract got to the Spanish Federation offices, the deal was official: Santiago Solari was now Real Madrid’s official coach. The move was confirmed a day later with the same low-key vibe. Solari till 2021.
Real Madrid and their president Florentino Pérez had 15 days – the deadline established by the Spanish Federation for any temporary manager – while the club searched for a new coach once the former one had been sacked, to think about what to do. Once Julen Lopetegui got the boot, Antonio Conte seemed to be the go-to guy. Talks fell apart and Solari remained on the bench longer than expected.
And the Argentinean made the most of it, of course.
Real’s stats under Solari are pretty much flawless. Four games, four wins. Fifteen goals scored and only two conceded, last Sunday versus Celta. Not only the team has won: it did it with a certain flair and charm absent from Lopetegui’s last two months. Under their new manager, Real Madrid seem to have recovered their identity and, even though their football isn’t at a world class level, it sure is more than enough to bounce back in every competition they’re currently playing.
How could such a sensational turn around happen in such a small amount of days?
Take Real Madrid’s silence regarding the continuity of their manager as a sign of current affairs: some things better remain untouched, especially those that work well enough. Nobody expected Solari to achieve these stats in four games: the board expected the Argentinean to steer the ship in the right course while they finished signing the deal with the next manager. But they won’t need to complete any talks, as they have found at home precisely what they were seeking outside.
Knowing how to get along with El Presidente
Perceived as a ‘yes man’ by some, it’s true that there’s a fluid relationship between the manager and the president. And, as everyone inside the Real Madrid inner circles know, that’s a top precondition if any single individual hopes to sit on Real’s bench.
Solari’s run in the B-team over the last two seasons wasn’t that impressive, but he did the job professionally and without asking too many questions.
This season, Solari didn’t complain when he was suddenly tasked with playing Vinicius Junior every single weekend in Segunda B. Aware of the price tag of the player and just how much Florentino liked the Brazilian, Solari kept starting him (even if he was a newcomer and Real’s B-team had a fair amount of talent up front) whereas Lopetegui never included him in the match-day squads, something which angered the president quite a lot.
Players have welcomed his low-key approach, very talkative and ready to listen. Quite a change from Antonio Conte himself or – God forbid- a Jose Mourinho whose name was thrown around two-weeks-ago as a potential candidate to replace Lopetegui. The squad knows that, under Solari, any potential conflict can be solved swiftly, peacefully and with no media ruckus.
All in all, the former player has shown everyone that the key to success isn’t sometimes doing lots of things well, but doing only a handful of tasks in an extremely smart way. And ‘smart’ is an adjective that fits Solari like a glove.