Another big game for Real Madrid and another underwhelming performance and result for Los Blancos. If they weren’t already out of the title race coming into the derby against Atletico Madrid the 0-1 defeat has left them with nothing more than grasping at a dream of a monumental collapse from Barcelona.
The Madrid derby used to be the annual humiliation of Atletico, with them having gone from 1999 to 2013 without a win against their cross town rivals. This all changed in the Copa Del Rey final of 2013 at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium when Diego Simeone’s men triumphed 2-1 – talk about picking your moment. Since then Real have only won three of the last sixteen Madrid derbies in all competitions. For a club that strives to be the best in the world, they’re not even the best team in their city right now.
With just one league title in the last seven seasons (soon to be eight) it’s not just the players and the managers who can be held accountable for their lack of success. Yes, there is a lack of identity when you watch Real Madrid play, but a large portion of the blame for their underwhelming performances and results should find its way to club President Florentino Perez’s door.
Since being re-elected in 2009 Perez has insisted on being involved in most of the football related decisions of the club and has spent eye watering sums of money – breaking the world football transfer record three times in this period on Kaka, Ronaldo and Bale.
First and foremost, Perez is a businessman who understands the mantra of profit over everything. He brought the ‘Galacticos’ model to Real Madrid, where commercial sales – new players bringing in new fans, image rights and shirt sales – are put before the needs of the team. It brings the club a so called superstar at the expense of a proven footballer already in Los Blancos squad when it is not needed. The latest example being James Rodriguez replacing Angel Di Maria on the basis of five good games at the World Cup.
It’s all about the now, with no long term plan in place. If you look at Real Madrid and Barcelona – yes Barca will spend big in the transfer market – but it’s like comparing chalk and cheese, with Barcelona’s large number of academy players in the squad and an established pattern of play. These youngsters know their job as it has been engrained in their play since the day they walked through Camp Nou’s front door. With Madrid it’s like watching eleven strangers playing on a field together at times.
Reactions at the full time whistle, after Saturday’s derby defeat, told us two things – the fans have had enough of the reign of Perez and the players have, in February, given up on the race for the La Liga title. For these reasons Florentino Perez will be sitting a little less comfortably as spring approaches.
Images from ‘www.theguardian.com, & ‘www.sportwitness.ning.com’