Real Madrid named former Brazil manager Vanderlei Luxemburgo as their third coach of the season on Thursday in a bid to recapture the spark that brought them a record nine European Cups.
The surprise appointment of Luxemburgo, who has just led Santos to the Brazilian title, came at the end of a disappointing year for Real Madrid, whose fans demand constant success.
It ends the three-month reign of Mariano Garcia Remon who in turn replaced former Spanish national coach Jose Antonio Camacho after just four months in the job.
"It's not been an easy decision for us but...we think it is the best decision right now for Real Madrid," club vice-president Emilio Butragueno told a news conference at which he presented the new Brazilian coach.
"It's a very great responsibility for me...but I'm not afraid of responsibility," Luxemburgo said, adding that every coach wanted to manage Real Madrid.
Luxemburgo said he believed success in football was built on discipline, unity, work and professionalism as he prepared to take charge of a squad of "galacticos" that includes Brazilians Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos as well as Zinedine Zidane, Raul, Figo, David Beckham and Michael Owen.
Club officials said Luxemburgo had signed an 18-month contract and would bring a deputy coach and a physical trainer with him.
Real are the most successful club in the history of European football with 29 domestic league titles in addition to their European honours.
But despite their star-studded roster they ended last season without a major trophy for the first time in five years and have been equally unconvincing this term, slipping to five defeats in the league and stuttering into the knockout stages of the Champions League, where they will face old rivals Juventus.
Real Madrid have dropped to fifth in the Spanish Primera Liga, 13 points behind pace-setters and arch rivals Barcelona.
The decision to appoint Luxemburgo followed a week of reflection and meetings, Butragueno said.
"We are convinced...Vanderlei is the best coach to help us to get out of the current situation. We think we needed a change of direction," he said.
Brazilian media quoted Santos Vice President Norberto Moreira da Silva as saying: "He [Luxemburgo] told us he had an offer he could not refuse and asked to be freed from his commitment to Santos. It was his dream so we thought it best to let him go."
Luxemburgo has an excellent track record, having won the Brazilian championship a record five times with four different clubs: Palmeiras in 1993 and 1994, Corinthians in 1998, Cruzeiro in 2003 and Santos this year.
He took over Santos in May this year after being fired by Cruzeiro in February following a clash with directors.
He was Brazil coach from 1998 to 2000, winning the Copa America in 1999 but was fired following the Sydney Olympics after poor results.
Shortly afterwards, the Brazilian Congress launched an investigation into financial problems in Brazilian football and Luxemburgo was publicly grilled over his tax returns.
Taking charge of Real Madrid puts a coach under intense pressure. When Camacho resigned, he said he felt incapable of getting the most out of the club's expensively assembled squad.
His predecessor, Carlos Queiroz, lasted less than a year.
Real Madrid have also been linked to one of Santos' top players, Robinho. Club president Florentino Perez said recently that Real were keen to acquire an option to buy the striker at the end of the season.
In an interview with Real Madrid's website on Thursday, Perez said the club had had a very poor end to last season and had suffered a "block", perhaps due to pressure, although things were now slowly improving.
"My wish for 2005 is that we will definitively emerge from that situation and we will once again play the 'show' football that has made us admired throughout the world," he added.
In an open letter on the Santos official website on Thursday Luxemburgo said he had received an offer he could not refuse.
"I could not turn down an invitation from Real Madrid which is not just important for my career but also for Brazilian coaches," he said.
"The only reason for this decision is to fulfil one of the great dreams of my professional life."
(Additional reporting by Fran Villalobos in Madrid and Brian Homewood and Nicholas Winning in Brazil)