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Two Chefs, Same Recipe, Different Results

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FC Barcelona v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

All chefs and bakers have one thing in common: They understand the basics of what makes a recipe work. Each chef understands that their dishes need some level of salt. Each baker understands that their baked goods need some level of sugar. What makes each of them different is how they interpret the recipe and the ingredients that they’re handed.

It’s the same thing with coaches. Two coaches can be handed the exact same team and come out with differing results. Look at what happened to Manchester United when they let Jose Mourinho go and brought on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Or, better yet:

If you’ve ever seen the Food Network show, Chopped, then you know that four different chefs are handed baskets containing the same four ingredients that they have to make into a cohesive dish in 20-30 minutes. More often than not, each chef comes up with a different dish. Some are incredibly successful, some are not. Those with unsuccessful dishes get cut from the show. Lopetegui and Solari were handed identical teams with identical expectations – to win, and continue the Real Madrid dynasty.

Some ingredients work exceptionally well together regardless of how the chef understands them. Sage and rosemary. Fig and Brie. Cinnamon and sugar. They just fit. Vinicius Junior and Benzema. Modric and Kroos. They work together. They read each other well. It doesn’t take a tactical genius to see that. However, not every chef understands how best to use the ingredients they’re handed or even what that ingredient is. I don’t think Lopetegui knew what to do with the newly acquired Vinicius Junior when he started. Solari, however, was the opposite. He knew exactly what to do with him. Lopetegui utilized Isco in his line ups far more consistently than Solari ever has and the team has suffered for this underutilization.

The long and short of it is this: neither have had a successful finished product. Lopetegui’s bread dough never rose while Solari’s soufflé fell flat. With the rumours floating around of Solari’s impending departure, it will be interesting to see what the next chef / coach does with the basket that he’s handed.