Real Madrid Director Emilio Butragueno Coy on Santiago Solari Exit Rumours

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2019

VALLADOLID, SPAIN - MARCH 10: Santiago Solari, manager of Real Madrid looks on before the La Liga match between Real Valladolid CF and Real Madrid CF at Estadio Jose Zorrilla on March 10, 2019 in Valladolid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Real Madrid director Emilio Butragueno refused to answer questions regarding the future of manager Santiago Solari on Sunday.

Speculation has been rife regarding the coach's position, as Madrid lost back-to-back matches against rivals Barcelona in the Copa del Rey and La Liga before being dumped out of the UEFA Champions League by Ajax.

Los Blancos did get back to winning ways at Real Valladolid on Sunday, coming from behind to win 4-1. However, when Butragueno took questions after the game, he declined the chance to give Solari his full backing.

"Solari is a great professional but we're here now to talk about the game," he said when asked if the manager would be in position until the end of the season, per Marca

Butragueno was then asked whether that meant he isn't comfortable with the current situation. "No, what I'm saying is that we're here to talk about the game," was his response.

Sid Lowe of the Guardian commented on what was an awkward exchange between the director and the journalist:

Sid Lowe @sidlowe

Butragueño wriggling and squirming and refusing to say Solari will be in charge for the next game. “We’re here to talk about tonight’s match,” he says. A spokesman refusing to speak and in doing so saying much.

Per Dermot Corrigan of ESPN FC, Solari was also non-committal when asked about his possible departure:

Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan

Solari on if he knows he is staying in the job “I cannot answer that - tomorrow we have a training session, and that is what I focus on.”

After falling behind to Anuar Mohamed Tuhami's effort, Real responded well with goals from Raphael Varane and Luka Modric either side of a brace from Karim Benzema.

Here's the fourth, which secured the three points for Madrid:

Eleven Sports @ElevenSports_UK

| #MondayMotivation | Luka Modric 🗣 "Most difficult week of my career. Success is not in never falling, but in rising every time you fall." Modric said this last Thursday following defeats to Barcelona and Ajax, last night he helped Real Madrid secure the win with this goal 💪 https://t.co/qTlbk6H3g7

While Los Blancos were able to get a much-needed three points, all doesn't appear to be well between the players and the manager at the moment. Nacho said after the match there was tension between the squad and Solari following the game.

"The relationship with the boss [Solari] is difficult as things are not going well," said the defender, per Marca. "But we are with him to the death."

Some of that tension appeared to manifest on the sidelines during the game.

Per the Spanish Football Podcast, Solari and midfielder Toni Kroos were engaged in a fiery discussion at one stage:

The Spanish Football Podcast @tsf_podcast

Santi Solari and Toni Kroos just spotted by the cameras having a VERY animated discussion on the touchline...

Given the manner in which Los Blancos' season unravelled recently, it would be a massive surprise if Solari was to remain in a job beyond the summer.

Paola Nunez of ESPN Deportes reported that a decision on the coach has been made, with Madrid set to axe Solari once a replacement has been found. Former bosses Zinedine Zidane and Jose Mourinho are said to be under consideration.

At the moment, Los Blancos don't have an immediate need to change manager—they won't challenge for the title barring an incredible Barcelona collapse and are secure in third in the table.

However, the club should be planning for the long-term in the coming months, and if Solari isn't part of that, the merits of keeping him around are few.