Are Schuster's days at Real Madrid numbered?

7th March 2008, Comments 0 comments

Might Real be looking, in June, for what would be their ninth coach in five years?

Madrid -- The big question floating through the early spring air in Spanish football right now is: could the days of Bernd Schuster as coach of Real Madrid be numbered?

Might Real be looking, in June, for what would be their ninth coach in five years?

Just two short months ago Schuster looked untouchable.

Indeed, it seemed that he was the most successful Real coach since Vicente del Bosque (1999-2003) - and that he was destined to last even longer than the latter.

Club president Ramon Calderon was openly talking of extending Schuster's two-year contract in January, when the whites were nine points clear of Barcelona in La Liga and one of the favorites to go the distance in the Champions League.

But, to paraphrase former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson, two months are a very long time in football.

Nothing has gone right for Real this winter. They have lost seven of their 14 matches in 2008: three in La Liga (away to Almeria and Betis, and at home to Getafe), twice to Mallorca in the King's Cup and, most importantly, twice to AS Roma in the Champions League.

The dream of an unprecedented "triplete" have gone up in smoke -- the same as Schuster's reputation for attractive attacking football and for calm self-control.

The German has disappointed Calderon and the "madridista" fans by his acerbic outbursts against referees and the media.

He raised eyebrows of astonishment on Wednesday night by claiming, bizarrely and perversely, that the meltdown against Roma "was not a defeat at all."

Schuster has never been the most likeable person in Spain, either as player or coach.

He earned himself the eternal enmity of the fans of Barcelona by running off alone to the airport when substituted during the 1986 Champions Cup final against Steaua Bucharest (which Barca lost on penalties) - then by jumping ship to join bitter rivals Real in 1988.

Schuster bossed the Real midfield for two seasons but then decamped to neighbors Atletico in 1990.

Calderon signed him up from Getafe last July to replace Fabio Capello, sacked despite taking Real to their first league title for four years.

Pedja Mijatovic, the club's sporting director, would have preferred to have kept Capello. Indeed, relations between Mijatovic and Schuster have been frosty, to say the least.

Sports daily Marca, which has always received "privileged information" about developments at the Estadio Bernabeu, claims on Friday that Real "no longer want" Schuster - and that Calderon is already looking at potential replacements.

Marca claims that one candidate for the burning bench is Jose Mourinho, out of work since quitting Chelsea in October.

Calderon has said several times that he does not like Mourinho's style of football, but what makes the Portuguese "Man of War" attractive is that Barcelona are also interested in him.

Marca quotes Calderon as saying, enigmatically, that "I want to continue having confidence in Schuster."

But "El Presidente" is no longer talking about extending the German's contract, which could be an ominous sign for Schuster.

DPA with Expatica

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