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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

Santiago Solari: Who is the new Real Madrid caretaker manager?

The Argentine is in temporary charge after Julen Lopetegui was fired

All is not well at Real Madrid. Beaten 5-1 by Barcelona at the weekend, they find themselves ninth in La Liga and are now searching for a new manager after Julen Lopetegui was sacked.

Having won four, drawn two and lost four, it comes as little surprise that he has been moved on, though in his place - on a temporary basis - is a relatively unknown figure in managerial circles: Santiago Solari.

Where have Real Madrid taken Solari from?

Solari has been in charge of Real's B team, known as Castilla, since July 2016. This has been the 42-year-old's only senior managerial experience. The team play in Spain's second tier, Segunda B. Unlike in other major European leagues, such as England, Spanish clubs are allowed to have a second team in the same league system, but the two teams cannot compete in the same division.

Solari's promotion, albeit only short-term, has echoes of Zinedine Zidane who also started his managerial career with Castilla before moving up to take charge of the first team - and with great success.

Castilla are currently fifth in Segunda B having won five, drawn four and lost one in their opening 10 matches this season. They finished eighth last season.

Real Madrid's French coach Zinedine Zidane looks on after a press conference to announce his resignation in Madrid on May 31, 2018. Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said today he was leaving the Spanish giants, just days after winning the Champions League for the third year in a row. / AFP / PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU
Zinedine Zidane announced his resignation as Real Madrid manager on May 31, 2018. AFP

He was a former Real Madrid player?

Indeed he was. Solari, a left-sided midfielder, was born in Rosario, and started his playing career at River Plate before signing for Real's arch rivals Atletico in January 1999. They were relegated the following season and he subsequently moved to the Bernabeu where he spent five years, winning La Liga in 2000-01 and 2002-03 and the Uefa Champions League in 2001-02.

This was Real Madrid's "Galactico" era, so for anyone who can't remember Solari it is probably because he was overshadowed by the likes of Luis Figo, Zidane, Raul, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and David Beckham.

He was still an important squad member and played 131 La Liga games for Real, scoring 10 goals.

In the summer of 2005, he moved on to Inter Milan where he won three consecutive Serie A titles, but made only 39 league appearances before heading back to Argentina in 2008 to play a season for San Lorenzo followed by short stints at Atlante in Mexico and Penarol in Uruguay.

He also played 11 internationals for Argentina, scoring one goal.

Does he have a chance of getting the job permanently?

Although Real have gone down the route of promoting from their B team before, this time it looks highly unlikely.

Solari, while clearly trusted at Real, hasn't been groomed for the top job in the way that Zidane was, and clearly lacks the status and instant respect that the Frenchman had as one of the greatest players of all time.

Former Chelsea and Juventus manager Antonio Conte looked set for the job, but talks broke down on Monday

Former Everton manager Roberto Martinez, who took Belgium to the World Cup semi-final in the summer, has been linked, as has former Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho, who is of course having a difficult time at Manchester United.

epa07130045 (FILE) - Real Madrid's head coach Julen Lopetegui reacts during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrd and Levante UD at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, 20 October 2018 (reissued 29 October 2018). Real Madrid's President Florentino Perez decided on 29 October 2018 to terminate Julen Lopetegui's contact as Real Madrid's head coach after 137 days in charge and substitute him temporarily with Argentinean former player and head coach Santiago Solari. EPA/RODRIGO JIMENEZ *** Local Caption *** 54714546
Julen Lopetegui lasted just 10 league games at Real Madrid. EPA

What does Solari need to do?

Get Real scoring again. They've scored just 14 goals in 10 league matches so far this season - half the number of Barcelona.

Much of that can be put down to the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus, but Solari needs to get the likes of Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema firing again.

Solari has two weeks to impress - assuming he wants the job permanently.

Spanish rules dictate that provisional managers can only be in charge for for a fortnight. During this time, Real have four matches - against Second-D division side Melilla in the Copa Del Ray on Wednesday, league fixtures against Valladolid and Celta Vigo, plus a trip to Czech team Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League.

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In pictures: Santiago Solari takes charge of first Real Madrid training session

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El clasico takeaways: Lights out for Julen Lopetegui, but Real Madrid players have let him down

After the calm of Julen Lopetegui, Real Madrid preparing for the storm of Antonio Conte