Last 14 months have been truly challenging for the Castilla followers. In the summer of 2016, Santiago Solari was promoted from Juvenil A to Castilla after sacking of Miguel Ramis, who failed to achieve promotion in Segunda B play-offs. At that time, Argentinian club San Lorenzo was reportedly interested in his services. I'm sure that now many regret that this move didn't materialize. What could've been...
Those who watched Solari's Juvenil A team were alarmed. They saw an uninspiring team, which finished third in their relatively easy regional group, and a manager who lacks ideas. 14 months later, it's beyond any doubt that those fans were unfortunately right.
Castilla is in the relegation battle. Let that sink in.
Solari took over the team which finished first in their regional division with 80pts. Since then, Castilla has been in a severe decline. Last season, they finished 11th with 51pts and only escaping relegation play-offs by measly four points. So, how are they doing this season? Well, only a better goal differential (how ironic...) is keeping them in 15th place with 9pts, which is right above the relegation zone.
It is true that every year there is an exodus of talented sort of proven players and new youngsters come in. Solari lost Mayoral and Mariano Diaz the summer he took over. Those players are goal machines and their absence is clearly felt, but Real Madrid brought in Sergio Díaz. Sergio is (was?) a highly rated Paraguayan center-forward set with a task to fill in the gaps. Sergio started brightly notching three goals in his first three games. Then, Solari happened.
How is it possible that a player, in this case Sergio Díaz, can score 4 goals and 5 assists in 8 games in the UEFA Youth League (Juvenil A) while only scoring 5 goals and 1 assist in 36 games with Castilla?
Sure, Juvenil A faces players of the same age in the UEFA Youth League, but those kids are the creme de la creme of those respective academies. In Segunda B, Castilla sometimes faces semi-amateur teams. I'm not saying one is easier than the other, but we shouldn't dismiss his Juvenil A numbers just because he was playing against “kids”.
It's not just Sergio Díaz. Oscar Rodriguez is also another similar case. I saw him playing this past Wednesday in the Youth League and he is a shadow of his former self. It's so painful to watch these kids that you root for being ruined. And the list of players seems endless...
It all has the same common denominator. Santiago Solari.
Solari's constant misuse of talented kids is the real issue. The whole point of B team and, in general, the youth academy is to develop kids and prepare them for first division football. Solari is failing hard on this front. Nearly every single player under him took a big step back and have their confidence nearly destroyed.
Solari's Castilla is physically painful to watch. There is no system whatsoever. There is no progress and it won't get any better. There are no injuries no key players, so this excuse is off the table. When I turn on Castilla, I find myself going through twitter and other website and realizing that even only hearing the commentary is excruciating.
Santiago, it is time to go.
So, how will the Solari's inevitable (hopefully) departure affect other youth teams and who might be the new coach?
This question is trickier than it might seem. I'm sure that you're first instinct was to say José María Gutiérrez Hernández. However, after pondering about it for the better part of the Sunday, I don't think that he will be the one to take over Castilla right now, but I do think that he will become Castilla's coach the next summer.
Guti is a smart coach and he must be aware of what is going on in Castilla and in what shape they are. He clearly has high goals and he knows that taking over a team in disarray during the season could negatively impact his long-term goals. It will be a very challenging task and there is no upside. There is also a question of what are Real Madrid's plans for Guti. Do they see him as a potential Zidane's successor? If so, do they want to risk him failing to get Castilla back on track during this season?
We must also consider that Guti has his group of kids in Juvenil A that he's molding towards his image. It's not unreasonable to expect that he would probably want to finish this first and then move on to Castilla.
So, if Guti doesn't move to Castilla, who will be the replacement? Well, there was an under the radar addition to La Fabrica's hierarchy in the summer. Manolo Díaz returned to Valdebebas. The former Juvenil, Real Madrid C and Castilla coach was brought back by Ramon Martinez and he is rumored to be very high on the list of potential interim Castilla coaches. This way, Guti can finish his project in Juvenil A (and maybe finally win Youth League) and then move to Castilla and start with a clean slate.