Real Madrid will always make headlines no matter what; but in the last few days positive publicity has been scarce at the Bernabéu. Most of the headlines have been for the wrong reasons.
Gareth Bale criticised for leaving the Bernabéu before the end of the Real Sociedad game. Queries about Santiago Solari’s management. Injuries to Mariano, Marcos Llorente, Toni Kroos and now Thibaut Courtois; and let’s not forget the controversial issues over the VAR system.
There have been exceptions of course; such as the signing of Brahim Díaz and the win against city rivals Leganés in the Copa del Rey; but even Antonio Pintus hasn’t escaped criticism in recent weeks.
Each takes its own importance depending on your viewpoint. For many, Gareth Bale leaving the stadium before the Real Sociedad match had even finished was a sore point. For the majority, however, the VAR incidents were far worse and hopefully these will be dealt with by the Federation.
VAR isn’t something that Real Madrid as a club have any control over. Whereas the other points mentioned can be directly addressed by Santiago Solari and the management team, the VAR episode is out of their hands.
Although it seemed a good idea at the time, the VAR system hasn’t yet lived up to its expectations and human nature has played a part in many decisions.
But it’s the impartiality of the officials that has led to the recent headlines; although in this case it’s Real Madrid who have been offended.
Yet I’m sure that the president, Florentino Pérez will be acting on this at the moment and rightly so. Partially in public, but almost certainly behind the scenes.
Gareth Bale, who is reported to be suffering from what appears to be a relatively minor injury to the soleus muscle, apparently left the stadium early during the match with Real Sociedad at the weekend.
Although there’s no hard and fast rule that says all players must be in attendance for every game, it’s generally accepted that if you are part of the squad then you should at least be at the home games even if injured or just not selected.
Santiago Solari has already spoken about this, but the facts are that if you play for Real Madrid then the last thing you want to do is give people the opportunity to make negative comments.
Sometimes it’s about thinking how your actions are perceived by others; or more importantly how other people could interpret them to suit their own agendas (or articles).
With Gareth already taking some flak in the media due to being injured again he needs to be careful what he says and does and restrict their opportunities accordingly.
Santiago Solari is also under criticism right now but beating Leganés will help for a while. Although it’s not going to take too much for this to continue and another defeat or two will be met by more of the same.
You get the feeling that no matter what he does or how well the team performs in the coming weeks he will remain under pressure despite the length of his contract. It is difficult for any manager / coach to give his best under these circumstances.
The injuries, of course, don’t help. But there’s very little that can be done to completely eradicate these. Minimising the risk is the optimum phrase used when discussing injury prevention but in real terms injuries happen and it’s often in the timing of these where most of the damage is done.
Toni Kroos (adductor injury) and Thibaut Courtois (Iliacus muscle strain) are the latest two players gracing the Real Madrid treatment room with their presence; accompanying Mariano (scatica), Marcos Llorente (also with an adductor strain) and Marco Asensio (Rectus femoris muscle injury in the right thigh).
That’s in addition to Gareth Bale of course, and young Francisco Feuillassier of Castilla who ruptured the ACL in his right knee a couple of weeks ago.
There’s a mean-looking fixture list coming up starting this weekend at Betis followed by Leganés again in the Copa del Rey. Next up after that is a home game against Sevilla; with a trip to Espanyol seeing out the month of January.
Any injuries in the next couple of weeks that are anything other than minor in nature will be seen by Solari as a significant disruption.
Antonio Pintus and his colleagues in the fitness department will have their work cut out once again to ensure there are no repetitions when everyone returns to full training.