December 4, 2005

Real Madrid sack coach Luxemburgo

By Simon Baskett

MADRID (Reuters) - Real Madrid coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo
was sacked on Sunday just over 11 months after taking charge of
the nine-times European champions.

The 53-year-old Brazilian, who was Real's fifth coach in
the space of two and a half years, was dismissed following an
emergency board meeting at the club's Bernabeu stadium.

"The Real Madrid board has decided that Vanderlei
Luxemburgo will not continue as coach of the first team," club
vice-president Emilio Butragueno told a news conference.

"It wasn't an easy decision, but the board considered that
we had reached a point where we needed a change.

"The team were not living up to expectations and that
worried both us and the fans and that was the fundamental
reason for our decision, which was unanimous."

The announcement came a day after Real's lackluster 1-0 win
at home to Getafe, but the detonating factor was a humiliating
3-0 home defeat by arch-rivals Barcelona two weeks ago.

Butragueno said Luxemburgo's four Brazilian assistants
would also be dismissed and that reserve team coach Juan Ramon
Lopez Caro would take over on a caretaker basis.


He added that a decision on a definitive replacement would
be made in the next few weeks.

Juventus boss Fabio Capello, who led Real to the league
title in 1997, former Celta Vigo and Porto coach Victor
Fernandez, England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson and Liverpool's
Rafael Benitez have all been mooted as possible long-term
replacements for Luxemburgo.

The former Brazil and Santos coach was appointed at the end
of December 2004 in place of Mariano Garcia Remon when the club
was in fifth place in the Primera Liga, 13 points behind
arch-rivals Barcelona.

He leaves the team in fourth place in the standings with 25
points from 14 games, six behind joint leaders Barcelona and
Osasuna. Real have also booked their place in the last 16 of
the Champions League.

The Brazilian got off to a dream start at Real when his
side snatched victory in a frantic seven-minute mini-match
against Real Sociedad and then went on to win seven league
games in a row.

However, his brief honeymoon period came to an end when
Real were knocked out of both the King's Cup and the Champions
League, though the team recovered in the league to finish four
points behind champions Barcelona.

The club then spent nearly 90 million euros in
reconstructing the squad during the close season, bringing in
Brazilian strikers Robinho and Julio Baptista, the promising
Spanish international defender Sergio Ramos and Uruguayan duo
Pablo Garcia and Carlos Diogo.

But the expensive makeover failed to bring about an
improvement in the team's performances and they slumped to
defeats against Olympique Lyon, Celta Vigo and Espanyol in the
opening weeks of the season.


Injuries to a succession of leading players did not help
Real but more than anything it has been the side's lack of
flair that has caused consternation among directors and fans

Further defeats against Valencia and Deportivo Coruna and
their 3-0 thrashing by Barcelona at the Bernabeu in which fans
ended the game applauding the opposition and whistling the home
players further undermined confidence in Luxemburgo.

Outwardly the club expressed its faith in the feisty
Brazilian, but his failure to deliver the stylish victories
that the club demanded meant that his days were numbered.

Saturday's narrow victory over modest local rivals Getafe,
which was not helped by David Beckham's second half dismissal
and ended with more jeering for the home side, finally sealed
his fate.

Real have failed to live up to their "Galactico" billing
ever since Vicente del Bosque was discarded in July 2003 after
steering the club to two European Cups and two league titles.
They have not won a major trophy since the former midfielder
was cast aside.

Since then the club has gone through four other coaches in
an attempt to find a person capable of getting a star-studded
squad that includes the likes of Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane,
Beckham and Robinho to live up to expectations.

The task now falls to Lopez Caro, a 42-year-old who has
excelled as coach of the club's reserve team Real Madrid
Castilla but who has no experience of the Spanish top flight.