Real Madrid – From Crisis to Crisis

Awarded the title of ‘the most successful football club of the twentieth century’ by F.I.F.A., Real Madrid, nine years into the twenty first, look to have a lot of work to do to retain their crown!

It seems incredible but the club that has won two Champions’ League (2000 and 2002) and four La Giga titles since the beginning of the Millennium has seemed to lurch – comically in the eyes of many – from one crisis to another.

How many clubs can you think of that would sack their manager hours after winning the Champions’ League for a record time? Real Madrid did in 2002 with Vincent del Bosque.

How many clubs would bring back a manager who won the league title for them in his only ever season with the club and then sack him immediately after he repeated the feat? Real Madrid did that to Fabio Capello in 2007.

How many clubs would replace their president, Florentino Pérez,because his so-called gallactico policy of bringing the world’s best players to the club had spectacularly imploded, replace him with a president who later is alleged to have rigged the voting, and then re-elect Señor Pérez unopposed because he vowed, again, to bring all the world’s best players to Madrid?

Well, you could go on for a long time pointing out such eccentricities. But it would all be pointless in the eyes of the Madrid afícionados who will, quite rightly, remind you that they are the richest club in the world, the most commercially successful – largely because of the aforementioned Florentino Pérez – and, at the time of writing, were being linked in the transfer market with almost any player capable of tying up his own boot laces. Or, in the case of Christiano Ronaldo, probably getting one of his ‘less talented’ team mates to tie them up for him so that he could save his energy for scoring great goals, trying to get opposing players sent off and sulking when the referee doesn’t agree with him. There are those of us who think that Ronaldo and Real Madrid are a perfect match for each other: talented and good-looking but arrogant, untrustworthy and not much good in a fight.

And yet, for all this sniping criticism, I have loved watching Real Madrid sometimes in the past few years. When Roberto Carlos and Zidane combined down the left wing; when Beckham curved in centres for Raul to head home; when Sergio Ramos rampaged all over the pitch attempting to inspire his lethargic team to lift themselves; and when ‘Saint Iker’ Casillas showed, time after time, why he is undoubtedly the greatest goalkeeper in the world.

Because, the Bernabéu is a great place to watch football – for a neutral it can be just as entertaining to watch the crowd when Madrid are playing badly – and Real Madrid can be an exhilarating force when they play at their best.

Spain, and the Champions’ League, need a strong, fast-flowing, attractive Real Madrid team – it’s part of the fabric of life. Barcelona were a wonderful side this year but they had it too easy; Real need to make them justify their ‘Dream Team’ tag a lot more next season. Getting knocked out in the Champions’ League Quarter Finals year after year isn’t good enough either – and football is the worse for it.

Those of us who were weaned on the team that won the European Cup at Hampden Park all those years ago need to see a great Real Madrid team again – so, come on, Florentino, get that Cheque Book out and let’s see the end of Real Madrid as a laughing stock and instead give us something to scare the living daylights out of those imposters in Manchester, London, Milan and Barcelona – especially Barcelona!

Kaka could be the natural successor to Zidane; let’s now have the successors to Figo, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and Fernando Hierro.

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