Santiago Solari may only have been named as the temporary replacement for sacked Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui, but the 42-year old appears to be determined to make the most of his opportunity.
Solari steps up from the B-team (Real Madrid Castilla) to lead the Real Madrid first team in their Copa del Rey tie away to third tier side Melilla on Wednesday, reports Xinhua news agency.
In theory, he is only in the role on a provisional basis, but with doubts over possible long term replacements for Lopetegui, a good result in Melilla and at home to Valladolid in the La Liga this coming weekend could help him become the permanent replacement.
“In life, and in this profession, everything changes quickly. The important thing is the day to day, what we do each day, the hopes we put in every day,” he said, when asked about his future.
“I am very excited, very satisfied to be here. To work at Real Madrid is a great opportunity, the most beautiful, of any job,” he told reporters.
Lopetegui may have carried the blame for Madrid’s poor season to date, but the players and club directors have also been criticized in the press, although as a former player himself, Solari protected his new charges.
This is a group of champions, warriors, who have won many things for this club. The situation is not the easiest, but I see them very motivated to turn it around,” he insisted.
Solari admitted he had taken over in a “delicate moment,” but insisted “that in moments such as this you see the personality of the players.”
One player who won’t travel to Melilla is central defender Rafael Varene.
The French international had to leave the pitch at halftime of Real Madrid’s 1-5 defeat to FC Barcelona on Sunday. The club also confirmed on Tuesday that he is suffering a groin injury which could keep him out of action for around a month.