The extravagance of Real Madrid when compared to the results of the new Galactico Era has become shocking. Utterly shocking. Eight-goal wins over Malmo not withstanding, compared to where Los Blancos were before Florentino Perez’s 2009 return, the club hasn’t made progress, having regressed from the heights of their 10th European title a year-and-a-half ago. And any chance Madrid preparing for the long-term were reset with departure of Carlo Ancelotti, whose sacking in was a reflection of Perez’s pathetic handling of the club.
It isn’t that Real Madrid haven’t won anything at all. They have won trophies must European clubs would crave, but those trophies are almost nothing when the net spending of the club. From Kaka and Ronaldo to Bale, James and Modric – spending that much means you get judged against the best, and over the six years since Perez’s return, Madrid have rarely been Europe’s best.
And it doesn’t look like that will happen any time soon. Rafa Benitez’s more defensive side have got off to a reasonably good start, one they should have capitalized on. Yet the team stumbled in El Clasico. Not just that, their exit from the Copa Del Rey, coming at a time when the David De Gea transfer blunder is still fresh in the memory, hints at what really is wrong with this club. It feels like Real Madrid are being run by a bunch of insouciant schoolboys.
Barcelona, Madrid’s constant point of reference, have been flourishing under Luis Enrique, who has changed the whole face of this team. Mind, he didn’t arrive during the best of times. He had Lionel Messi’s poor form to deal with, Pedro’s future to handle, not to mention the club’s administrative issues. He dealt with all of it, leading his team to the treble and reestablishing Barcelona as the world’s best club.
Comparatively, you can’t help but think Real Madrid isn’t in a safe pair of hands. Perez is ever-ready to make a mess of matters, such as creating an environment where his best player (Cristiano Ronaldo) is unhappy, and his general tendency to spend millions and millions on superstars around the world only to sell them a few seasons later undermines the club. It still feels like Real Madrid are more obsessed with commercial success than trophies, a sad state of affairs for a team with the resources to be unstoppable.
This misguided money-mindedness is responsible for Real Madrid’s battering on the biggest of stages, but for the playing staff, it’s also a rapier that hangs over their necks. As a player, all you want is the backing of the club’s officials and management, but at Perez’s Madrid, that backing doesn’t exist. The departed Iker Casillas and the nearly-departed Sergio Ramos are the most recent examples, as is a player like Sami Khedira, who eventually departed for Juventus after new Galactico signings squeezed him out of the squad.
Then there’s Benitez, Perez’s latest hand-picked coach, whose horror shows on and off the field have been well-documented by the Spanish media. His trouble meshing with the squad is another symptom of Madrid’s problems.
The only solution for Real Madrid is a complete overhaul, one that doesn’t focus on the players but the people running the club. Players aren’t a problem for this side; they never have been. Real Madrid’s current squad is young enough, world-class and, on talent alone, capable of achieving more than Barcelona But the club seems to be neither patient with their crop of players nor capable of getting the best out of what they have.
Even if unwillingly, Madrid have to adapt to a different model. They need a Pep Guardiola-style manager, and they need an executive with a David Dein-like personality. When all of these are trussed together, Real will have a recipe for success.
Once and for all, they have got to shut the Galactico Era down. Jumping into the transfer market every year and being the cynosure of it is not the answer. The sooner that is realized, the better it will be for an otherwise jejune future.
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