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Madrid president chooses, but does not reveal, new coach

Written by: Staff

MADRID, Mar 22 (Reuters) Real Madrid president Fernando Martin has decided who will take charge of the first team next season but says he will not be revealing the new man's identity just yet.

''I know who will be the new coach and I'm not going to name any names,'' Martin told Spanish daily El Mundo in an interview published today.

Martin, who took over as president last month following the resignation of Florentino Perez, did, however, make it clear that the new boss would exercise greater power than he did under his predecessor.

''I've scoured the globe to glean information on all the possible candidates and I've got one thing completely clear. The new coach will be more powerful and will play a fundamental role in the construction of the squad,'' he said.

''It shouldn't be the case that the coach pulls in one direction and the club in another...he should have a lot of weight and there should not be too many people in his way.'' Martin said that present coach Juan Ramon Lopez Caro would not continue beyond the end of the season but added that he hoped he would remain at the club in another capacity.

''He is a great coach, but needs more experience. He has done everything in his power and I think he will lead the team into second place. I'm counting on him to continue developing inside the club.'' Leading candidates for the post of Real coach such as AC Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and Liverpool's Rafa Benitez have all ruled themselves out of the job.

Juventus coach Fabio Capello, who led Real to the league title in 1997, has hinted he will remain with the Serie A club, leaving former coach Vicente del Bosque, ex-Real Madrid players Bernd Schuster and Hugo Sanchez and departing England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson as the favourites for the job.

Martin said he had met with Del Bosque, who was discarded as coach by Perez after he had led the club to two European Cups and two league titles, but only in order to ask his advice.

He also sought to distance himself from Perez and his Galactico recruitment policy whilst dismissing reports that the former president was still pulling the strings at the club.

''People can say what they want,'' said Martin. ''I'm the president because he wanted me to be and I thank him for that, but my hands are free to make my own decisions.

''I was always loyal to him, but loyalty should not be confused with freedom. I always gave him my opinion, but the final decision was his. Now it's me and my board of directors who will decide.'' Martin went on to reaffirm his commitment to overhauling the present Real squad and insisted that he would not shy away from making difficult decisions if some of the leading players in the squad were deemed surplus to requirements.

''The squad needs to be improved and rejuvenated because players should make their names at this club.

''We can't just sign players who are at their peak, we also have to sign youngsters who have the chance of progressing and will improve in their performances and increase in value.

''If, after consulting with the technical staff, we have to ask some players to leave then we will take that painful decision.'' REUTERS PDS KN1804

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