Monday, November 17, 2008

Bye Bye Bernd?

There is growing talk out of Madrid that Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster is on the way out. A presser has been called for this evening by Predrag Mijatovic, Real sporting director. There has been reported growing tension between Schuster and the players, although that has been downplayed in the media. What remains to be seen is if 1) he really is leaving and 2) who would they bring in right now. The woes that Real Madrid have experienced this season is not necessarily the manager’s fault, in my mind. I don’t think Real is losing games due to failed strategy and tactical measures. He’s not fielding the wrong lineups. Real has not been playing well at all, and there have been several injuries to key players. Already, Wesley Sneijder and Guti, along with many others, have missed considerable time with injuries, and Ruud van Nistelrooy is out for the season with a knee injury. This has thrown their regular rotation out of wack.

There are no excuses for how they’re playing. Their defense has been hurt, but they have also played lethargic and sloppy, leaving Casillas to look like he’s an average goalkeeper. The midfield has also been banged up, but haven’t gotten the job done. And, as a result, fewer opportunities are being created for the strikers up front, and without Ruud’s height and ability to play in the air, their scoring options have been limited. None of this, however, seems to be Schuster’s fault.

Now, if Bernd has not been playing the right people and has lost the confidence of the locker room, then maybe it’s time to make a change. However, I think you do that in the offseason. Letting go of the coach now is not the answer, and will not help you. The players need to get healthy, they need to be more focused and sharper on both offense and defense. That is the only way that they can play to the caliber necessary to continue in the Champions League and compete for the La Liga title. After the success of the past 2 years in La Liga, it would be a shame for them to fizzle out this year. They also need to make it as far as they can in the Champions League to keep their opportunities to win silverware open. But, firing Schuster just doesn’t do it for me. Hopefully they continue to keep him on and see this season out…but it looks like that may not happen.

UPDATE: Looks like Bernd will remain at the Bernabeu.

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