If Real Madrid Football Club continues with their current policies, they may never ever be able to dominate the world of club football again as they use to do in the past, probably up to the end of time. May be they will be able to win the Champions League once in every 10 or 15 years in a season when they have some individual brilliant players, in a season when luck is hugely on their side or in a season when the rest of Europe’s elite clubs are not at their best, just as we witnessed in 2014.
Furthermore, they may win Spanish La Liga once in 5 or 6 years in such seasons when Barcelona becomes complacent after winning three or four titles in a row and there is no strong Valencia or Athletico Madrid to capitalize on that. Almost every managerial aspect of Real Madrid is being currently run abnormally; the presidency, the management, transfer policy, squad assembling, youth system and every other thing else. The only thing going for Real Madrid is their history and heritage.
Their outstanding and intimidating history has continued to impose them as a power house and a force to reckon with in domestic and European football even in times when they perform like any other mediocre club. Real Madrid have made it to the Champions League group stages in each of the last 12 seasons not completely because of their strength but partly because of the growing weakness of La Liga teams and by extension the competition in the league as a whole. La Liga has arguably never been as uncompetitive for a very long time in its 86 years history as it has been in the last 10 years.
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In the last 11 years (2004-2015), Real Madrid’s arch-rivals Barcelona have dominated Spanish and European football left, right and centre in such a way that one occasionally feels ashamed of being a Real Madrid fan. As at 2000 and even up to 2003, Barcelona had virtually a non-existent fan base in Nigeria and Africa, but because Real Madrid has continued to slip and slip, Barcelona has taken advantage to not only snatch away a sizable number of Madrid’s fans but also to establish a strong presence. Over this period, Barcelona won 7 La Liga titles while Real Madrid had 3; Barcelona had 4 Champions’ League titles while Real Madrid had only 1. In seasons when Barcelona didn’t dominate in Europe, it was always Bayern Munich or any other club from England, Italy or even Portugal. Real Madrid spent six straight seasons without getting past the second round stage of the Champions League. All these problems, embarrassments and the distortion of great history facing the once invincible Real Madrid are self-inflicted.
Since the Civil Engineer and Politician Club President Florentiono Perez took office as President in 2000 and began his Galacticos policy in 2001, Real Madrid hardly buy the right players and if any player has to make way, it will always be a good performing or even an indispensable player. Over the years Real Madrid have sold some of their best players with relative ease for peanuts, and more often they miss them and in many times never actually replace them.
Perez used a wicked salary system to drive away players he didn’t like. For instance, Claude Makalele -considered the best defensive midfielder in the world at one time, as important as he was also one of Real Madrid’s most under-paid players. Some years after Makalele left for Chelsea, former Real Madrid Players Fernando Morientes and Steve McManaman claimed that he was the most important, but least appreciated player.
From David Beckham in 2003, to Gareth Bale in 2013, Real Madrid has cumulatively spent about $500 million U.S in buying players they do not need. When Manuel Pellegrini was sacked in 2010 after just a year in charge, he lamented that when he took charge he pleaded with the management not to sell Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneider, but they refused and instead went ahead to buy Cristiano Ronaldo and Ricardo Kaka.
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While the investment on Cristiano paid off later, that on Kaka was a complete waste as many pundits had predicted. That season (2009/2010) Real Madrid ended trophyless season while in contrast Robben and Sneider went ahead to feature in the UEFA Champions league final for Bayern Munich and Inter respectively. Both players were hugely instrumental as Bayern claimed the domestic double and Inter Milan, the treble. From Makalele in 2003 to Angel Di-Maria in 2014, Real Madrid has always unceremoniously bundled out their best and most influential players out of the club, in many cases without any reason, most often to make way for another unneeded player.
Players whom every sensible club would die to keep, Real Madrid would release them on flimsy excuses. This compels someone to ask, should players with the intention to build solid careers be joining Real Madrid? The careers of many promising players have been brought to an abrupt end by the club over the last 10 years. Robinho, Michael Owen, Julio Baptista, Jose Callejon, Mesut Ozil, Di-Maria, Van Der Vaat, Illeremandi; the list is almost endless. It is important to note that in the season that Di-Maria was forced to leave the club, save for the goals, he played better than Messi and Ronaldo- a very rare achievement in the last 8 years-only for him to be sold to Manchester United.
Many believe that Argentina only lost the world cup due to Di-Maria’s absence through injury and if he had remained in Real Madrid, definitely, he would have made the last three Ballon d’Or shortlist alongside Ronaldo and Messi. The young Di-Maris and Ozil were two players that Coach Jose Mourinho sacrificed the £60million Kaka to develop, but at a time when the reaping of their benefits will reach its peak, they were released to start the fresh development of Isco and James Rodriguez respectively. One step forward, three steps backwards.
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The secret behind Barcelona’s success over the years have been faith, patience, consistency and making the right investment. Players like Andres Iniesta and Xavi were faithfully groomed in years even as they show many unpromising signs at various stages of their early developments. Real Madrid, popularly referred to as the most impatient club in the world can never discover a Messi because they lack the faith and patience. Real Madrid is the most insensitive club to the demands of their fans. They will make sure that the most critical decisions they take are also the most unpopular ones. Barcelona had consistently built a strong team with a unique, mastered and consistent style of play that even a hitherto amateur coach like Pep Guardiola and a mediocre one like Luis Enrique can win the treble in their first seasons. These are things Real Madrid should learn from. German philosopher Johan Wolfgang von Goethe once said: ‘our friends show us what we can do; our enemies teach us what we must do.’
The only time in the last 15 years that the Real Madrid looked to have experienced some stability was during the 3 years of Jose Mourinho. It appears Mourinho was given a free hand to build the team, improved players like Higuain and Benzema and turned wonder kids like Ozil, Di-Maria and Khedira into superstars. Without depriving Carlo Ancellotti of his hard earned glory, we must say that it was largely Mourinho’s team that won the 2014 Champions League.
Many thought after that, the club will go ahead to dominate for the next 3 to 5 years, but instead of them to strictly keep faith with that team, they went ahead to start destroying it. They sold Di-Maria and Alonso and immediately added James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos to the team and immediately smuggle them into their starting line-up -their style of play has changed once again. In the 2014-2015 season, Real Madrid mostly performed well against weak opponents, failing to dispose a largely overrated Juventus team in the Champions League semi-final and failing to clinch La Liga even if it was theirs to lose.
The frequency of hiring and sacking of coaches by Real Madrid have been virtually unprecedented in the history of club football. From 2003 to 2015, Real Madrid has had 13 coaches, an average of more than one coach per season. Real Madrid is probably the only club in the whole world that will sack a proven Del Bosque for egocentric reasons and replace him with an untested Carlos Quiroz and call it improvement.
Only Real Madrid, among all clubs would reward the good work of Carlo Ancelotti with a demoralizing sack against the wish of almost all their players and fans. Several average players and coaches whose credentials do not in any way match the illustrious history of Real Madrid had been recruited into the club due to their use and dump policy. It was highly embarrassing to hear that a club like Real Madrid was begging Mourinho to come back and he turned them down before they eventually settle for Rafa Benitez.
If Real Madrid and President Perez wants to turn the club exclusively into a business venture where only players who sell shirts will be kept in the team irrespective of their performance and relevance or a team which a much-needed player is sold to make money for the deal of a marketable player, then sooner or later, the club will destroy its global support base as well as its heritage. Real Madrid is known for football and success and not marketing. If profits will not make way for good football, then good football must not make way for profits.
Already, the club has lost much of its support base in Nigeria and Africa to Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester City due to their dismal trophy count in the last 12 years. The new season had already began and there is nothing much to expect from this Real Madrid side which from all indications may not even be able to perform like the previous trophyless season. With 3 right backs and one left-back, more than 7 midfielders but just one direct striker, this has been the most unbalanced Real Madrid side in recent history. Unless the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich slips, Real Madrid will find it difficult to pass the semi-final stage if at all they go that far. In La Liga, they would have to count on Barcelona’s failure once gain and not entirely on their own strength
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