Real Madrid fans have the utmost respect for Raul. The legendary striker scored goal after goal for Los Blancos and was a complete forward, staking his claim as one of the very best in the world on a star-studded team with bigger names like Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo. That Raul was held in such high regard as a player and as a man speaks volumes to his quality, and it is equally telling that in just a few years, he became a revered legend at one of Germany’s most high-profile clubs, FC Schalke 04.
Raul is currently managing Castilla, the prolific Real Madrid youth team. Castilla has been producing top talents that are flourishing all over Spain and Europe, with a few players distinguishing themselves on the current Madrid first team in left back Miguel Gutierrez and center midfielder Antonio Blanco.
Although Real decided not to hire Raul this summer and instead went with Carlo Ancelotti, Madridistas should have plenty of confidence in the Spanish manager. Firstly, Raul received consideration for the Madrid job. And secondly, Eintracht Frankfurt also considered him as Adi Hutter’s replacement in their dugout.
Raul has stayed at Castilla, where he could potentially be groomed as Ancelotti’s replacement – much like Zinedine Zidane replaced the legendary Italian coach – when Real feel they have the right player environment for an up-and-coming manager.
Raul was compared to legendary managers
Former Real Madrid general manager Jorge Valdano doesn’t have a crystal ball, but he is another highly-respected figure around the club who knows a thing or two about making it at the top level. Certainly, he knows a thing or two about Raul.
In a wonderful interview with La Galerna, with a hat tip to Managing Madrid’s Matt Wiltse, Valdano talked up Raul, stating that he has “an unstoppable energy” that reminds him of legendary managers like rivals Pep Guardiola and Diego Simeone, as well as former Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho. Valdano seems to wholeheartedly believe Raul can be the next great manager in world football, and he pointed to the way he develops Castilla players as evidence of these qualities.
“Raúl is managing Castilla’s youngest squad. He grabs seventeen-year-olds and returns them to you as men six months later. He grabs Miguel Gutiérrez and makes him a man. With Antonio? The same. Marvin? A man. Men have been made through an incredible level of demand. Transmitting those values to the boys of today is increasingly difficult, and Raúl does it.”
Madridistas have definitely taken notice of the number of Castilla players who have progressed through the ranks to the first team and have not shown any hesitancy on the big stage. Miguel, Blanco, Marvin Park, Sergio Arribas, and Victor Chust have not looked out of place in the spotlight, and none of them have ever made a glaring mistake to cost the team.
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Raul is the kind of manager who can work with young players and help get the most out of them. Valdano is convinced by his energy and his ability to transmit this energy to the players. Not every great player becomes a great manager, but those with the special insight and energy can become titans in the managerial world. Perhaps that is what Valdano sees in Raul.