MADRID (AP) Amid speculation that his days are numbered, Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari dished out some of the blame for the team’s disastrous season to his players.
“The majority (of my players) have honored this club’s emblem, and those who haven’t have been told so personally by me,” Solari said on Saturday, four days after Madrid was humiliated by Ajax in the Champions League, following devastating defeats to Barcelona in the Spanish league and Copa del Rey.
The usually tight-lipped Solari did not name which players he thought had failed to meet his standards. But since taking over from Julen Lopetegui in late October, Solari has clearly not been pleased with either the attitude or performances of several once-important players.
Defender Marcelo has been sent to the bench, Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio are no longer starters, and Spain midfielder Francisco “Isco” Alarcon has seen several matches from the stands after being dropped from Solari’s squad.
Asked about Isco, Solari responded: “Disciplinary questions are handled internally. (But) to play you have to first be in shape and ready to play competitively.”
Rumors are rife in Spanish media that Madrid may not wait until the end of the season to fire Solari after back-to-back homes losses to Barcelona and a stunning 4-1 defeat to Ajax on Tuesday that ended Madrid’s campaign for a fourth consecutive Champions League title. Former Madrid manager Jose Mourinho, who has been without a job since being fired by Manchester United, leads the list of potential replacements.
Solari, who has a contract through 2021, said he was still committed to seeing out the remaining 12 matches of the campaign but struck a philosophical note.
“All of us here, we are just passing through,” Solari said. “And in this job that is even truer. But the most important thing for a team and a coach is the next match. It has always been an honor to serve this club.”
That next game comes on Sunday at Valladolid, with Madrid a distant third place to league leader Barcelona.