It’s not clear whether Real Madrid’s board had high expectations for Santiago Solari when they decided that he was good enough to stay as the coach until the end of the season or not. The initial plan was to buy some time until the club completed a deal for Antonio Conte, although Madrid ultimately decided to keep Solari.
That decision isn’t paying any kind of dividends. Real Madrid are not performing better under Solari and their results have been mediocre as well. In fact, it could be argued that Lopetegui’s team played better and implemented a more appealing style of football, even if the results were poor also. The board should have seen this coming, though. Solari was mediocre at best with Castilla —so was Zidane, but you are not allowed to win the lotto twice, right?— and those who saw their games closely thought that he should have been gone by the end of last season.
That doesn’t mean that Solari is entirely to blame for the team’s struggles, though. Real Madrid are lacking a pure goalscorer and some players that were expected to take a leap are massively underperforming. While that is undeniably true, Solari just has not brought any kind of plan or solution. Players like Reguilon, Odriozola, Llorente or Ceballos have been given chances to play and all seem to deserve more minutes down the road, especially if the starters can’t get the job done. Solari probably thinks the same way, but he is trusting the same key players time and time again, and while it’s hard to bench your stars for young players, that’s what Solari should be doing if he wants to have the chance to stay and prove that he is good enough to coach the first team for more than three months.
It will be extremely hard for Solari to stay as the coach past this season unless the team finds a way to win the Champions League, something which seems almost impossible right now. Real Madrid will find someone else next summer hoping that the new coach can keep the stars engaged and fighting in every single competition on a consistent basis.
For the moment, this one looks like a wasted season for Los Blancos.