Fri | Apr 26, 2019

Real Madrid stick with Solari

Published:Wednesday | November 14, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Santiago Solari

MADRID (AP):

Real Madrid are done searching for a new coach.

The club said yesterday it is sticking with Santiago Solari, giving him a permanent contract until June 2021.

Solari was appointed as the interim coach about two weeks ago to replace the fired Julen Lopetegui and was rewarded with a long-term deal after leading the team to four straight victories, putting it back on track in the Spanish league and the Champions League.

The 42-year-old Solari is a former Argentina international who played for Real Madrid in the early 2000s. He had previously coached Madrid's "B'' team.

There had been speculation about Antonio Conte and Roberto Martinez as possible replacements for Lopetegui, but Solari gained the club's confidence - and the approval of fans and players - with his impressive start in charge of the main squad.

Madrid outscored its opponents 15-2 in the four matches under Solari. They had lost five of their last seven games with Lopetegui in command, being outscored 13-4.

Solari was virtually unknown outside of Spain and few saw him as a front-runner for the Madrid job, but he has always been well-regarded within the club.

He got the demanding Madrid fans on his side by making some popular choices early in his stint, including giving more playing time to Vinicius Junior, the young Brazilian who arrived amid high expectations but had been relegated to the 'B' team under Lopetegui. The 18-year-old forward played well every time Solari put him in, showing he was indeed ready to be with the main squad.

Players who had been struggling under Lopetegui also began thriving after Solari took over. Karim Benzema was one of them, scoring four goals in the four victories under Solari. The French striker had scored only once in the last 10 matches before Lopetegui was fired.

The club had registered Solari as its permanent coach on Monday because local regulations prohibit teams from having an interim coach for more than two weeks.