It’s a single point from two games to open the season for Real Madrid Castilla. Normally, I’d do a player ratings article for post game reaction and reserve any bigger takeaways for deeper into the season. However, I am starting to find it hard to criticize individuals still learning their craft while the same systematic issues keep cropping up.
From the off, I want to say that it is still early in the season and Raul has the time and ability to turn this season around. He has done so in the past. However, what has been apparent this year and perhaps since the failed promotion bid in 2020-21 is that the manager has had a growing role in Castilla’s malaise.
Across the three years that Raul has overseen Castilla, the reserves have struggled with the same issues. They can’t seem to defend set pieces, are poor at winning away from home and usually unlikely to win a game if they aren’t holding a strong lead at halftime. The back five are often starve of decent outlets for getting out of their own half, which can lead to a lot of Castilla’s possession being played in the wrong part of the pitch.
These problems have cropped up consistently from day one and part of it is the nature of coaching a youth side in a professional division. Naturally a group of kids are going to struggle to defend against grown men from a corner and recent coaches preceding Raul have all struggled away from home. In the past, we could ignore those issues because the goods far outweighed the bad. Raul brought an attractive, intense game to Castilla and, as players became more accustomed to their roles, that game plan paid real dividends. The attention Raul got from bigger sides following that season was well deserved.
However, outside of a very positive first 18 months, one could rightfully say that though the same issues haver persisted, the positives that Raul’s coaching brought have dwindled. The attractive, intense game plan became quite slow and lacking creativity last year. In spite of the risk (a intelligent one on the face of it) of keeping the same squad another year, Castilla sleepwalked through last season with nothing but a few inexplicable experiments (namely Peter playing as a wing-back) to take away from the campaign.
The summer was good, but the start of the season has been very familiar in spite of wholesale changes in the squad. One can’t point to any of the players for fault because you can’t say they are being given a fair chance to show their best qualities. In that situation, only man should shoulder the blame. No one is going to be happy that I’m ringing the warning bells on a club legend this early in the season, but I feel I’ve been watching Castilla long enough to know when that concern is justified. I’m just hoping that I’m proven wrong come season end.