Go ahead and sack the coach ... if you want keep on failing year after year after year. That was the defiant message from Manuel Pellegrini, Real Madrid's under-fire coach, as he prepared to don the tin hat and take to the dug-out for tonight's home game against Getafe.
Pellegrini also dumped the midfielder Guti from the squad, although he denied that it had anything to do with stories the two had had a blazing row during half-time of Madrid's humiliating 4-0 midweek Cup defeat against Alcorcon – a team lying fifth in the spanish equivalent of the Blue Square Conference.
Pellegrini's job has been on the line since that horror show, but he hit back in style, dropping Guti and suggesting it was the club's constant firing of coaches that had turned them into a big-spending laughing stock in recent years.
Pellegrini said: "Eight coaches have been and gone in the last six years and just two trophies have been won from a possible 18 in that time, which seems a very poor return. Sacking the coach is not the way. The best football Spain has seen over the last few years has been played by Barcelona and Villarreal [the club he previously coached] but you need to have time to develop that."
There was even support from the Barça coach Pep Guardiola, who said: "People think you just turn up and win the treble but it takes time to achieve success."
Pellegrini will silence all talk of the chop if he can win at home today against Getafe and in Milan in midweek. Guti, though, will not be beside him in the trenches.
The pair denied having a heated exchange that ended with the coach telling the player he was being taken off, and the player telling him what he could do with his substitution. "It was merely an amicable discussion," said Guti. That's hard to believe, though, with the team trailing Spain's version of Havant & Waterlooville by three goals at the break.
Beyond tonight's contest and the visit to Milan, a Madrid derby awaits, and then there is the second leg against the part-timers in the Cup. If the Chilean coach can come out of those games unscathed there should be a notable drop in the various polls to decide who should take his job.
Rafa Benitez has already won a vote of confidence and Michael Laudrup and Luis Aragones have also been backed. Even Sven Goran Eriksson, the current director of football at Notts County, has received an honourable mention in the list of possibilities.
But none looks a viable option. Benitez does not get on with Real's director of football and kingmaker Jorge Valdano, and he would want assurances over control of all football affairs that Real have never afforded any coach.
Aragones is a loose cannon, too, likely to go off in Valdano and president Florentino Perez's face, while Laudrup's inexperience makes him a big gamble.
Although that did not stop Getafe president Angel Torres, who has hired Laudrup in the past, suggesting he would be perfect for the job, adding that Pellegrini did not have the character to manage a club of Real's size. As Manuel keeps telling people – time will tell.
Spotlight on... Milan
Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani confirmed David Beckham will be the club's first reinforcement in January as Leonardo's side look to stretch their unbeaten run to six games when they face fourth-placed Parma tonight.
"He will be a player that will contribute a lot, not only on the pitch but also inside the group, as the players like him infinitely," said Leonardo of Beckham's return. Pippo Inzaghi and Alexandre Pato both scored in the midweek draw in Napoli, leaving one-time Tottenham Hotspur target and Real Madrid striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar still struggling to make an impact at San Siro. Internazionale play Livorno tomorrow ahead of their crucial trip to Kiev in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Everybody's talking about... Thierry Henry
Just a fortnight after Ronaldinho somehow scooped the prestigious Golden Foot for best player over 29, news that Thierry Henry is leading the Castrol rankings for best player of 2009. The Frenchman, who hasn't scored since the start of last May, should return from injury to play some part in Barcelona's trip to Osasuna. Barça coach Josep Guardiola said suggestions that he was displeased with Henry's decision to play for France when he was carrying an injury, thus prolonging his spell on the sidelines, were wide of the mark: ''There is still time for Henry to have an excellent season,'' he said.Reuse content