To Valladolid with Solari and Sergio Ramos
Alarm bells were going off in the Real Madrid press room yesterday. Santiago Solari was expected to arrive at 1pm, per usual, but by 2pm there was still no sign of him. “Have they already sacked him?” was the big question circulating amongst the convening members of the press, before the Argentine coach eventually made his entrance one hour and fifteen minutes later than scheduled. The cause of the delay: a meeting with Madrid’s general manager José Ángel Sanchez.
His agony pains me, because he is a decent type of man, as is Julen Lopetegui. The same thing that happened his predecessor is now happening to him. At the same time that Florentino Pérez is looking for his replacement, he must appear before the press to discuss his starting eleven for what will likely be his last game in charge. It’s a cruel circumstance that only provokes compassion visible in the faces of those that stare back at him in the press room.
But despite of everything, today he will be on the coach’s bench at Valladolid, leading a team riddled with several casualties and suffering from extremely low morale. Yesterday, the three clubs that surround them in the table, Barça, Atlético and Getafe, all won. Local rivals Getafe are now just three points behind them in fourth. Could they finish ahead of Madrid? That question will start to have an answer depending on how Los Blancos fare in Valladolid, where they can expect to face a team living with the anguish of being caught in the drop zone.
The promising arrival of Ronaldo Nazário as club owner and president injected some life into the club, sparking an initial run of good results. But that streak came to a crashing halt due to a lack of goals and now the threat of descent to LaLiga 2 hangs over Los Pucelanos.
Despite being suspended, Sergio Ramos has travelled to Valladolid to offer his leadership and some positivity, the only thing that remains to mobilise this deflated group of players during these troubled days.
Only five points separate them from Alavés in fifth place. A decent cushion, but nobody has ever forgotten the five consecutive defeats under Carlos Queiroz in 2003-04. That's why Sergio Ramos got on the team bus instead of staying at home with his children. It's all a gesture of the captain’s commitment, which now must be translated to the rest of his despondent team mates.