It was tempting for Real Madrid fans to believe that the appointment of Santiago Solari would solve all of the team’s problems.
His resume may not have featured any previous top-level experience but he was a club man, steeped in the traditions of the club, both as a player and a coach.
More importantly, his audition for the job could not have gone any better: four games, four wins, 15 goals scored, just two conceded.
However, there was never any chance that Solari was going to be able to fix Real in just three weeks.
There are long-standing issues here and all of them were on display in Saturday’s humiliating 3-0 loss to Eibar.
Indeed, it is worth noting that Real have now conceded at least once in their last 11 away games in La Liga. That’s their worst run without a clean sheet on the road in 14 years.
Even more damningly, Eibar had scored just three goals in their eight previous Liga meetings with Real. They had matched that tally by the hour mark here.
What’s more, they could and perhaps should have added to their haul, as Real were an absolute shambles at the back, with their incompetence best summed up by Alvaro Odriozola getting caught in possession on the edge of his own box in the build-up to Eibar’s killer second goal.
It would be wrong, though, to single out the defence, bad as they were, collectively and individually.
Gareth Bale had the ball in the net at one point during the first half but that disallowed half-volley would be as good as it got for a player who hasn’t scored in La Liga since September 1.
Karim Benzema has been revived by Solari’s appointment but he looked like his old bumbling self here. Indeed, he recently argued that “people don’t understand what I do on the field” and it was certainly difficult to comprehend what exactly he offered against Eibar.
In midfield, Toni Kroos once again struggled without the combative Casemiro alongside him, Dani Ceballos’ most notable conclusion was making a mess of the clearance that led to Eibar’s opener, while Luka Modric was dreadfully ineffective and was rightly replaced midway through the second half by Isco, who once again started on the bench under Solari.
It really does have to be said that Modric looked nothing like a Ballon d’Or winner and, in truth, hasn’t since the summer.
He’s not the only one who looks like he’s suffering from post-World Cup fatigue, of course, as Raphael Varane has never looked more vulnerable at the back.
Also, if we were expecting Sergio Ramos to issue a strong riposte on the field after a week in which he was accused of breaking anti-doping rules before the 2017 Champions League final, it didn’t materialise.
The captain looked as dazed and confused as everyone else around him, and Solari on the bench.
Having restored Real’s confidence with four straight victories against mediocre opposition, Solari had been expected to make it five wins on the spin against a side Madrid had never been beaten by.
In the end, though, they were lucky to escape a worse beating. As a result, his honeymoon period is over after his first game as permanent coach.
Solari did wonderfully well to get the job. But the hard work starts now.