The Argentine is under immense pressure after a dismal week that saw Madrid lose twice to Barcelona and exit the Champions League
Real Madrid have already decided that Santiago Solari will not be in charge of the club for the 2019-20 season and are mulling over exactly when to fire the Argentine, Goal understands.
In what has been a chaotic week for Los Blancos, they were beaten by eternal rivals Barcelona twice on their own patch before seeing the defence of their Champions League crown go up in smoke in spectacular fashion on Tuesday.
The losses to Barca, that saw them dumped out of the Copa del Rey semi-final and fall 12 points behind their rivals in the Liga table, and Ajax, a 4-1 trouncing that seemed barely possible before the game kicked off, have effectively ended Solari’s hopes of staying at the club.
Despite heading into Tuesday’s game off the back of the pair of defeats to Ernesto Valverde’s side, there was still genuine confidence that Madrid would see off Ajax, who they were leading 2-1 from the first leg, and their nightmare of a season would at least still have Champions League football to fall back on.
Sergio Ramos’s suspension for receiving a deliberate yellow card in the first leg set the tone, with Madrid missing their talismanic captain for a game they thought they would win comfortably. A chance to save the Spaniard for the tougher tests to come later in the competition.
But how it all went horribly wrong.
The 4-1 loss, the worst they’ve ever suffered at home in European competition, brought particular shame to the club and meant their grip on Europe’s premier club competition, that had seen them win the last three titles in a row, had finally gone.
Madrid president Florentino Perez and general director Jose Angel Sanchez tried to emit an image of calm at the full-time whistle as they watched on from the boxes inside the Bernabeu.
Director of Institutional Relations and club legend Emilio Butragueno went as far as saying “we must stay calm and help each other”, but Goal understands those high up in the Madrid food chain were utterly dismayed at the team and Solari.
That specifically relates to the Argentine’s team selection over the past week and how he decided against making significant changes to the starting XI despite the back-to-back losses to Barca.
It simply wasn’t a night, or week, befitting of one of the greatest and most historic sporting institutions in the world.
The big question now relates to exactly when, not if, Madrid will pull the trigger and get rid of Solari.
The 42-year-old has already admitted that he has no plans to tender his resignation but Madrid’s mind is made up after what has been a tumultuous 2018-19 campaign that, of course, started with Julen Lopetegui in charge.
The names of Jose Mourinho and Mauricio Pochettino have already been bandied around the Madrid hierarchy after Tuesday night’s humiliation and there are even those who would welcome back Zinedine Zidane with open arms, despite his previous decision to walk away from the job.
As Solari and his players took to the training pitch on Wednesday there was an overriding sense of dismay but also uncertainty over the head coach and his fate. What will happen next?
March 6 marks Madrid’s 117th birthday but there was no sign of a cake and balloons. Madrid are in crisis and Solari’s a dead man walking. White handkerchiefs at the ready – these are dark days at the Bernabeu.
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