Fans of Real Madrid CF are suddenly looking back at the time when Santiago Solari was in charge of the club two years ago, and are missing his presence on the sidelines. The growing sentiment is being fuelled by the comparison of the Argentine’s decisions against those of current manager Zinedine Zidane.
After having a week-long nightmarish déjà vu which saw the club get eliminated from both the Spanish Super Cup and the Copa del Rey, fans are mulling over a similar period late in Solari‘s reign back in the 2018-19 season.
Solari took over the club to rescue them from a disastrous start under Julen Lopetegui. The Argentine managed to take Real Madrid from ninth to second place in La Liga by making some drastic and controversial changes.
Solari was plucked out of his position as head coach of Real Madrid Castilla, and his promotion as first team coach meant that he also elevated numerous players from the youth system.
Sergio Reguilon, Marcos Llorente and even Vinicius Jr. thrived under Solari‘s wings. To make way for new blood, there was the much-publicised benching of Isco Alarcon, as well as the reduction of minutes for co-captain Marcelo.
However, towards the end of the season, the club inevitably faced tough matches as they attempted to rescue the season. Despite bringing the club back up to a respectable spot in the La Liga table, consecutive eliminations against FC Barcelona in the Copa del Rey (semi-finals) and Ajax in UCL (round of 16) led to Solari‘s sacking.
Zidane was appointed back as head coach and essentially brought back the old guard. Both Marcelo and Isco were back as starters and Vini lost the mentor that he needed at that stage of his development. Reguilon has since been shipped off to Sevilla and now Tottenham, and Llorente had to make the decision to move to Atletico Madrid where he has now become one of their key players.
Vini meanwhile, has failed to blossom and has seen his unpolished talent becoming the subject of ridicule and criticism in recent months. He faced a lot of heat as Zidane‘s squad was humiliated by third division team Alcoyano out of the Copa del Rey a few days ago. Less than a week before that, Los Blancos also lost to Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Super Cup.
Zidane‘s decisions have not been paying off, and fans are now declaring that Solari probably had the right strategy in mind, if only he was given at least a full season to prove it. Instead of looking towards the future, Real Madrid is now stuck with the same squad they had massive success with…more than three years ago.