The worst-kept secret in Spanish football is out as Real Madrid have sacked coach Fabio Capello, a mere 11 days after the Italian guided them to their first league title since 2003.
Capello, 61, still had two years left to run on his contract at the Bernabeu. But his fate was sealed by steady criticism about his tactics and man management.
Real president Ramon Calderon told Marca newspaper: “We’ve laid the foundations, but we need to find a more enthusiastic way of playing.”
German coach and ex-Real player Bernd Schuster is the heir-apparent, having negotiated an amicable release from his job at Getafe.
Capello is in the unusual position of having managed Real on two occasions, both for one season only, and winning the Spanish title for them each time.
Having previously triumphed in 1996-97 with Madrid, he returned last summer from Juventus on a three-year contract.
When Calderon appointed him last July Capello’s brief was to instil discipline among some galactic egos and clearing out the dead wood that had piled up in the squad.
But there is a view in Spain that he paid the price for pushing David Beckham out the Bernabeu exit door.
Once Beckham confirmed he was joining LA Galaxy at the end of the season, Capello publicly declared that the ex-England skipper would never be considered for Real’s first team again.
But Don Fabuo was forced to eat humble pie on that one, and it was Beckham’s superb form that inspired Real’s late and somewhat unexpected surge to the title.
History is repeating itself in one sense as Real again show they have little sentiment as far as successful managers are concerned.
The club’s last Spanish title victory in 2003 was not enough to keep the much admired Vicente del Bosque in his job, and German coach Jupp Heynckes was also sacked after guiding Real to the Champions League title in 1998.
Real’s sporting director Predrag Mijatovic said: “We have taken the decision not to continue with Fabio Capello next season.
“It was a difficult decision but a unanimous one based on an exhaustive report I made to the board.
“We don’t think Capello is the right person to lead Real Madrid into the future given what we want this club to achieve.
“Now we have time to think over who will be the next head coach.”
Capello has had a distinguished if controversial career in football management. The former Italan international player previously managed AC Milan and AS Roma in addition to Real and Juventus, and has won a league title with every club he has managed.