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Opinions from fans regarding Schuster

RealMadrid43v3r2010-05-09 11:23:11 +0000 #1
Déjà vu all over again. Just like last year Madrid entered the Spanish Supercup high in spirits, only to lose out. Last season they failed to net in Seville and lost by a single goal; this year they scored twice in Valencia but suffered defeat by the same margin. Of course in the second leg Madrid suffered a humilating 5-3 reversal in front of a stunned Bernabéu: another defensive showing like last night's could see history repeat.

Some of the fans on the match report comments page were quick to blame coach Bernd Schuster for Madrid's travails. After all, he started with a somewhat unfamiliar-looking 4-4-2, utilising Diarrà and De la Red as not-quite-defensive central midfielders in front of a highly unorthodox back four. Arjen Robben was left on the bench while Raúl toiled behind Ruud van Nistelrooy up front.

Predictably enough such selections did not pass muster with some. "Nabukadnezar #1 FAN" from Romania had this to say:

"Schuster has confirmed yet again that he has no imagination. The only reason Real Madrid won the league last two seasons is because of the players. I hope this coach gets SACKED. Raul and Salgado are useless, Javi Garcia is too inexperienced as a defender, Robinho and Robben should both play, Robinho could be a center forward, Diarra loses too many balls etc."

Meanwhile Omar from Egypt added:

"Madrid lost this match because of stupid Schuster. The reason he gave for playing those four defenders together is a stupid reason. Four players in the starting 11 shouldn't have played: De la Red, Javi García, Torres, Salgado. The second and third goals that Valencia scored were both defensive mistakes and if it wasn't for Casillas we would have lost by a higher score. I want Schuster to try to let Robinho & Robben to play together, then we can win next leg and Schuster will learn from his mistakes. Hala Madrid!!!"

Let's take this one step at a time, starting with the defence. In Omar's opinion no fewer than three of the back line shouldn't have played:

Nik from 'il' found much common ground with Nabukadnezar:

"What is Schuster thinking fielding Salgado, Javi García and Raúl when he has Ramos, Robben and Metzelder available on the bench? Schuster again is starting to show his weaknesses as a coach, and I wouldn't be surprised if we lose at home like last season against Sevilla."

There is much to take from this, too. After all, as Nik said Schuster had other options available on the bench, yet he used a back line that was ultimately unsuccessful.

It's not as if he couldn't have seen it coming. Javi García, re-signed during an orgy of cantera-buybacks earlier in the summer, has played virtually all of his Real Madrid minutes so far in a centre-back position, and in perhaps all but one match he's made at least one major error. On several occasions these have even cost Madrid goals.

It would be unfair to say that García is definitively not a central defender: after all, he played there with Osasuna last season. But certainly he spent more time - and enjoyed far, far more success - in a defensive midfield role. The problem is that by shoehorning him into the back line his occasional lapses into hesitancy or misjudging crosses costs him more dearly, and by extension Madrid are punished.

Thus by resting Metzelder Schuster put his side in a path of jeopardy he must have known was always going to be there by fielding Javi out of position: maybe, then, Schuster doesn't so much lack imagination as he does mis-use it.

Forward Motion

Still, the 'imagination' comment remains large in the mind. Arjen Robben, consigned to the bench as his traditional left wing role was occupied by Robinho, immediately made an impact after comiong on, begging the question as to why he didn't start in the first place.

Robinho was played partially because he's worthy of the place and partially to dispel rumours that he had ruled himself out due to unhappiness with this summer's transfer drama. The two combined mean that no matter what, he couldn't do anything other than start on Saturday. This is fine. But given that Robben closed last season so strongly and came into that campaign slowly due to injury, it may have made sense to also play Robben from the start in order to build up his confidence and match sharpness.

As the fans above point out, this wouldn't mean having the whimsical situation of playing two left wingers. Rather Robinho could have switched inside to a second-striker role. This necessitates benching Raúl, of course. It is easy to say with hindsight that the club legend, poor as he was last night, should have been a substitute, but even putting his performance aside it seems to make more sense than did benching Robben. After all Raúl, being that much older, surely merits a more sparing role in pre-season, while it's arguable that away games call for a slightly different configuration than the traditional Raúl-Ruud setpup that so flourishes at the Bernabéu.

Then it's on to the midfield. Omar feels that de la Red should not have taken part. Perhaps this is, in common with "madridista" from London, due to the fact that he may have been misused. According to "madridista" both he and Diarrà, a very defensive partnership on paper (remember that last season Rubén played centre-back for Getafe at times!), were in fact in an advanced role that afforded them little scope to track back as needed. Either that or in Omar's eyes de la Red isn't good enough compared to those who were available on the bench. Neither option gives Schuster too much credit and certainly provide food for thought.

Opposing Views

Some had a slightly different take on events. Long-time contributor Erwin from Jakarta stated that he was not surprised by the result, given the defensive players on option, but deemed the side last night to have done enough to secure an advantage for the second leg:

"Not a bad result, actually. Emery is a talented coach: it's obvious he is going to show results sooner or later, it's bound to happen. What's more, we got two away goals advantage which is more than enough for Madrid to win the second leg. After all they were playing without Cannavaro, Ramos, Pepe, and Sneijder. We're NOT making excuses, we're just simply stating that we WILL win the second leg."

There's something to be said for such a standpoint. Perhaps Schuster, recognising that this competition is in the grand scale of things very much of secondary importance, deliberately contrived to field a team comprising some second-stringers. After all, the strength of the bench was such that one could see some obvious changes that could have been made prior to kick-off.

What's more, several Valencia contributors, such as John Black from Barbados, shared similar, but somewhat differing views views. He acknowledged that Madrid were weakened, but so too were Valencia. This is key: as much as we're discussing Schuster and his men it's important not to marginalise Los Che too much. After all, last season they proved to be "cup specialists" as they vanquished Barcelona en route to the Copa del Rey final, and this year they appear to have started off with the same desire for silverware. More importantly they do so under new coach Unai Emery, the highly-rated young Basque who so thrived at Almería. That he's managed to coax a fine performance out of them already isn't too surprising.

But let's close with a look at Schuster. What do you think of his conduct last night? Was his starting line-up and formation to blame for the eventual downfall? Remember, as much as Madrid were said to have toiled in the first half, that's when they went in with a clean sheet. What about the substitutions - should the likes of Robben have started? Let us know your thoughts.


Apparently, i was not the only one.....



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