Splashed across the front pages of Spanish newspapers are stories about possible replacements for Carlo Ancelotti and the overall decline in performance from Real Madrid players this season.
Ancelotti has to accept the lion share of the criticism because it was his reluctance to rotate the squad which played a role in the team’s fatigue and injury problems during the second half of the campaign.
But the issue being overlooked by the majority of fans and the press is that of the leadership of Real Madrid president, Florentino Perez.
While Perez’s “galacticos” policy of bringing world class players to the Bernabeu has brought the Spanish club success both on and off the pitch, Real Madrid have not been the dominant force domestically and in Europe that many fans and experts have expected them to be.
The president himself judges success based on whether or not his side was able to achieve domestic or European glory – that is why the club has gone through eleven managerial changes since 2003.
During his twelve years as Real Madrid president (two separate terms between 2000-06 and 2009-15), Perez has spent $1.3 billion dollars on transfers and the club has won 14 titles. Of those honors, Real Madrid have won La Liga three times and the Champions League twice.
Perhaps its time for the president to turn a critical eye on himself and his blueprint for success.
Perez’s policy of bring the world’s best players to Madrid has created a global spectacle and sells a ton of merchandise. But the actual man-management of a squad filled with enormous egos and differing playing styles is a massive task for any manager.
Also, more than most professional sports teams, Real Madrid players have a tremendous say in what goes on at the club. When an individual has an issue with the manager, they have a direct line to the president to vent their frustrations. That has created an environment where the players have more control over the goings on at the club than the coach.
Perez also makes decisions that seem to surprise his own players and managers.
In recent seasons, the departures of Mezut Ozil and Angel di Maria destabilized the dressing room and created unnecessary adjustments to be made by the coaching staff.
There is also a feeling that Perez didn’t do enough to hold onto veteran leader Xabi Alonso, who left the club last summer to join Bayern Munich after Real Madrid completed the signing of Toni Kroos.
While big clubs need to continue to strengthen their squads, there is no need to gut the team of influential players in the process.
Additionally, a club with the global reach of Real Madrid should have more players coming from its own youth system than it currently does.
Madrid is the wealthiest club in the world and that allows it to pick off talented and/or world class players from other sides.
But with it’s financial strength and global reach, how is Real Madrid not developing talent under its own roof?
Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester United have shown that long term success both domestically and in Europe is enhanced by a club’s ability to develop its own youth players.
During Perez’s two terms as Real Madrid president, Barcelona and Bayern Munich have each won the Champions League twice – while winning their respective league titles six and eight times; and Manchester United have won the Premier League five times and reached the Champions League final once.
Since Perez judges success on domestic and European triumphs, he has fallen short of his own criteria with only three league and two European titles in twelve years.
And while he is entitled to call Real Madrid the ‘biggest club in the world’, they aren’t.
The fact is, despite its commercial success and enormous wealth, Real Madrid have not dominated Spanish or European football during Perez’s twelve-year tenure at the club.
The history of the club speaks for itself with 32 league titles and 10 European Cups.
But again – by his own criteria – Real Madrid have fallen short of expectations under Florentino Perez’s leadership.
However, don’t expect the president to point the finger of blame at himself. This is the same man who a few months ago called a press conference to blast the media for trying to “destabilize” his club.
The revolving door of players and managers will continue at Real Madrid until the president alters his philosophy, steps down, or is removed from his position.
Until then, the revolving door of players and managers will continue in the Spanish capital and Perez will remain blameless for the club’s failures.
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