The Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster remains calm about his future at the Bernabeu despite seeing his stuttering side sink to a new low last night with an embarrassing Copa del Rey fourth-round exit at the hands of Segunda B side Real Union. Trailing 3-2 from the first leg, Madrid were victorious 4-3 in front of their own fans thanks largely to a Raul hat-trick, but it was not enough to save the two-time reigning Spanish champions from tumbling out on the away-goals rule.
That has further increased the pressure on Schuster, whose side had lost three of their previous six competitive games prior to yesterday's match. But the German insisted: "I'm not worried about my job, but I understand that others will have some doubts. That's logical with what we are seeing." However, Spanish media are suggesting that the former Getafe coach could find himself sacked if Madrid do not beat Real Valladolid in this weekend's Primera Liga match at the Estadio Jose Zorrilla. If that should happen then technical director Miguel Angel Portugal, the former Racing Santander and Real Madrid Castilla coach, is being tipped to replace Schuster in the hotseat.
Regarding the cup defeat, Schuster added: "I don't think there's a problem with attitude, all the players ran and worked hard. The problem is that teams manage to get us into trouble with few chances on goal, which is what has happened in recent matches. "The problem is that teams score against us from the first chance they get. "This team is always willing to fight back, but you cannot keep doing it in every clash. It works in one game or two, but not always."
There was a shock too in France, where the champions Lyon were sent crashing out of the Coupe de la Ligue by second tier side Metz, who won 3-1 at Stade Gerland. The Ligue 2 visitors raced into a two-goal lead before the break through goals from Victor Mendy and Sebastien Renouard. Brazilian Cris pulled one back for Claude Puel's team but their fate was sealed when Romain Rocchi added a third with 23 minutes to go.
Cologne general manager Michael Meier claims his club will be given first option on Lukas Podolski as soon as Bayern Munich decide to sell. Podolski has made no secret of his desire to return to his hometown club of Cologne, but Bayern are yet to sanction a transfer and have repeatedly insisted the Germany international is not allowed to leave. However, with Bayern now being linked with new strikers, Podolski may indeed be allowed to move on.
"I have an agreement with [Bayern chairman] Karl-Heinz Rummenigge that he will inform me as soon as Bayern are prepared to sell Podolski," Meier told Sport Bild. "Only then can we make our offer. Podolski has nothing against FC Bayern, but is family is simply not happy in Munich." * With agencies