Madrid sack Capello, the fools…

Just eleven days after winning their 30th Spanish league title, Real Madrid have announced that Fabio Capello will not continue as first team coach next season. Madrid’s board of directors met at lunchtime today to finalize their decision.

It is difficult to understand how any club can get rid of their manager/coach after winning the league, but apparently the move to oust Capello started weeks ago.

President Ramon Calderon never wanted Capello in the first place, it was his Sporting Director, Pedja Mijatovic, who last summer persuaded Calderon that Capello was the man Madrid needed to end their three year spell without a trophy. Madrid received a lot of criticism throughout the season for their poor style of play and their lack of attacking flair, and nobody would have been surprised had Capello gone after losing to Bayern Munich in the Champions League back in February, when Madrid were five points behind Barça in the league.

Calderon found the criticism hard to take and six weeks ago he told Mijatovic that either Capello had to go or it would be Mijatovic himself who would be asked to leave. Since then Madrid have been searching for a substitute. Calderon’s choice, and number one contender for the post, Bernd Schuster took his first coaching position in Spain in 2004 when he became coach at Levante; the following year he moved to Getafe where he still has one year of his contract to run.

Schuster reportedly has a get out clause in his contract which says he can leave Getafe in exchange for €1million. Mijatovic is supposed to prefer Michael Laudrup as coach, but it seems his lack of top-level coaching experience will count against him. Other possible options who have been mentioned in Spain are Ronald Koeman and Arsene Wenger, though it seems highly unlikely that either would be persuaded.

Roberto Carlos, speaking from Turkey where he will now play for Fenerbahce, was critical of his ex-bosses at Madrid. “The treatment that some gave Beckham and me really annoyed me.” For Capello, he only had praise “I cann’t believe that they are looking for a sustitute after winning the league.”

Personally, I can only think of one other case of a club sacking their manager after winning the league, and that was back in 2003 when Madrid last won the league. Vicente del Bosque was then shown the door by ex-president, Florentino Perez, and what a mistake that was.

Fabio Capello was the main reason Madrid won the league, it took time, but he instilled his gritty character into the team which was capable of taking 31 points from the last 12 games of the season. He knew it was right to sell Ronaldo and trust in Ruud van Nistlerooy. He wasn’t scared to drop Beckham and in the end this may have been the cause of Beckham’s excellent reaction in the last four months. The fans have been won over, but the board have not.

It remains to be seen if Schuster has arrived to an agreement or not, but I suspect he has. It is still very hard to understand why Madrid have done this, just as they were getting back to their winning ways.

Nig writes at

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