Real Madrid’s humiliating Champions League exit against Ajax will be the catalyst for major changes at the Bernabeu.
After three consecutive Champions League titles the holders were sent crashing out of this year’s tournament at the last-16 stage after Ajax hit back to win 5-3 on aggregate.
Real won the first leg 2-1 in Holland but a magnificent performance by Ajax saw the talented Dutch side through to the quarter-finals.
It’s not just in European football where Real are failing this season. In Spain’s La Liga they are third in the table – five points behind city rivals Atletico Madrid and 12 behind leaders Barcelona – and look out of the race for any trophies.
Solari won’t give up
The Ajax defeat comes off the back of two El Clasico home losses against Barcelona: 3-0 in the Copa del Rey semi-final second leg (4-1 loss on aggregate) and 1-0 in the league on Saturday.
Real have now lost four matches in a row at home and in one week their chances of winning any silverware have vanished.
The pressure is now on head coach Santiago Solari, who has only been in the job since October after Julen Lopetegui was sacked.
Speaking after the Ajax debacle on Tuesday night, Argentina Solari insisted he would not quit. The 42-year-old said: “I did not come to the club in such a difficult moment to give up. What we must do is remain as calm as possible in such a difficult moment and take it on with the best character.
“Madrid is bigger than any of us – it always returns – and returns even stronger.”
‘A shit season’
Real Madrid defender Dani Carvajal did not hold back when asked about the loss against Ajax.
The Spanish international right-back said: “We have to be professional. We have to not hide. We have to show our faces but we know that we have had a shit season.
“This is my worst night of my career. In a week, we lost it all and we lost it all at home. They were better, they deserved to go through.”
‘Failure of the century’
It was not just Real defender Carvajal or the club’s supporters who were angered by the holders’ Champions League exit. The Spanish media also ripped into Solari and his failing team.
The most damning story comes from Marca’s Hugo Cerezo, which was headlined: “The failure of the century will see heads roll at Real Madrid”.
Predicting major changes at Real this summer, Cerezo wrote: “You can’t always win, but you simply can’t be eliminated at the Santiago Bernabeu, especially not in the manner of the thrashing which the Amsterdam club handed out on Tuesday.
“Four successive home defeats in all competitions have left Los Blancos essentially out of every competition, with their chances of La Liga Santander success very slim.
“The feeling at Valdebebas is that a historic cycle at the club has come to an abrupt end, and mammoth changes are afoot, make no mistake.”
Solari must go
Sport.es described Real’s plight as a “nightmare week” and journalist Lluís Payarols does not expect head coach Solari to be in the job much longer.
Payarols said: “There can be few doubts about what the future holds for Solari. In the current panorama, it will be a surprise if he makes it until the summer. He has a contract until 2020 but president Florentino Perez is already sounding out replacements.”
AS reports that Ajax’s stunning performance will likely see the signing of Solari’s redundancy papers.
Mourinho on his way?
Don Balon says that Santiago Solari will get the chop and Real president Florentino Perez has “already prepared the new coach”.
Former Manchester United boss José Mourinho is the man linked with the Bernabeu top job.
The Portuguese previously coached Real from 2010 to 2013 and Don Balon says that Perez will entrust “The Special One” to turn things around.
Perez out as well
Solari is not the only person who Real fans want out of the club. At the final whistle against Ajax Real supporters also called for president Perez to resign.
Real’s spectacular fall from grace coincides with the first season without Cristiano Ronaldo, who left for Juventus last summer. No replacement was found for the superstar striker and fans blame Perez for the lack of transfer activity.
Sport.es said: “Madrid’s season has fallen apart in the last week. Barcelona knocked them out of the Copa del Rey and all but pushed them out of the title race, oo. They have now exited Europe.
“Florentino Perez’s failure to adequately replace Cristiano Ronaldo has seen him lose favour among fans, while his managerial appointments since Zinedine Zidane left have not worked, either. Julen Lopetegui was sacked after the 5-1 loss at Barcelona in October and his replacement Santi Solari has not quite worked out.”
It’s the end of an era for Real Madrid and that could see a major squad reshuffle this summer.
On Tuesday it was reported that Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar and Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard are wanted by the Spanish giants. And today it’s claimed that midfielder Toni Kroos, playmaker Isco and left-back Marcelo are all considering their futures after a disastrous season at the Bernabeu.
Welsh international Gareth Bale has also been linked with a move away from Real, with Premier League clubs Manchester United and Tottenham possible destinations.
Bale has been the target of the Real boo-boys and his agent Jonathan Barnett hit out at the supporters for their treatment of the forward.
Despite rumours suggesting the 29-year-old will leave, Barnett said: “Gareth deserves the greatest of respect. The way Real fans have treated him is nothing short of a disgrace.
“We’re fed up of fake stories that he’s leaving. Despite what the Spanish press are reporting, he’s happy, he speaks reasonable Spanish and there is no problem between him and the rest of the Real players.”