Managerial sackings at Real Madrid will continue till Florentino Perez realises he is at fault
12 years have passed since Florentino Perez cited exhaustion as his reason for severing ties with Vicente del Bosque, just a day after the curtain fell on the title-winning campaign of 2002-03. 10 managers have since sat in the dugout of the Santiago Bernabeu and they have now all been sacked or eased out, Carlo Ancelotti completing a full house after being shown the door in similar fashion to Del Bosque, a day after the most recent La Liga season drew to a close.
Ancelotti, however, did not manage to win the league, but he did manage to deliver a Champions League, the one prize Real Madrid have been coveting above all since Del Bosque’s contract was not renewed.
The now Spain-manager won the European Cup twice during his time in Madrid and since he departed they failed to make it any further than the quarter-finals, falling at the second-round stage in six successive seasons between 2004 and 2010, before Jose Mourinho took them to three straight semi-finals.
A historic tenth trophy, or La Decima, was finally obtained by Ancelotti last season with the 4-1 victory over city neighbours Atletico in Lisbon but that, plus the Copa del Rey trophy he won by beating Barcelona earlier on in that campaign, has not been enough to save the Italian from the president’s knife.
“My appearance will be very brief” said Perez in Monday evening’s press conference before he confirmed Ancelotti’s fate while reiterating, possibly in an attempt to persuade himself, that it wasn’t an easy decision for the board to arrive at.
A few minutes later and it was over and Perez’s attempts to look sincere, or the head of a “top global institution” as he put it, were thinly-veiled to the extreme. There was no difficult decision. Ancelotti finished his second season in charge without the honour of a trophy and once that happens there is simply no way back.
Manuel Pellegrini was sent packing after achieving Madrid’s highest-ever points tally of 96 in 2010 while Jose Mourinho’s failure to win a trophy in the season after he won La Liga in 2012 would accelerate the Portuguese’s exit. Similarly to Ancelotti, both lost out to the Barcelona that has been blessed with the extraordinary talents of Lionel Messi but with Perez’s presidency there is no mitigation; fail to win and you’re gone.
Carlos Queiroz, Jose Antonio Camacho, Mariano Garcia Ramon, Vanderlei Luxemburgo and Juan Ramon Lopez Caro were all dispensed as Perez sifted through four managers in the last two years of his first presidency spell.
Though the ruthlessness wasn’t just consigned to Perez, with Roman Calderon firing Fabio Capello and Bernd Schuster despite both delivering league titles. It is under Perez particularly, however, where the madcap hire ‘em fire ‘em policy is intensely fuelled.
Galactico policy a major factor behind managerial firings
Perez is synonymous with the Galactico policy that he initially embarked upon in his first stint as presidency, signing Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, David Beckham and Robinho and although Calderon continued to deliver the big names, the likes of Lyon’s Mahamadou Diarra and Fabio Cannavaro and Emerson from the Juventus that was engulfed in scandal and relegated from Serie A in 2006 didn’t hold the same sway as Perez’s captures.
Calderon promised Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka but failed. Perez, back for a second spell in 2009, got them both, as well as Xabi Alonso, Karim Benzema and Raul Albiol in a £226 million spending spree. Luka Modric, Mesut Ozil, Angel Di Maria, James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale have been among the names acquired with the £450 million spent in the 6 years since as the lessons that should have been learned from Perez’s first era, the flaws of the Zidanes y Pavones idyll, have not been heeded.
Perez’s movements in the transfer market are driven by marketing opportunities and Ancelotti is the latest to discover how that comes at a detriment to the team.
The Italian inherited Angel Di Maria from Mourinho and turned him into the instrumental midfielder that played a pivotal role in the Champions League triumph, yet he was sold to Manchester United last summer to make way for the incoming Rodriguez, the lucrative flavour of the month after his impressive showing at the Brazilian World Cup for Colombia.
The profits from shirt sales and merchandising again took priority over sensible transfer activity that now reaps a squad that looks heavy on names but light on efficiency. That Sergio Ramos was asked to fill in at centre midfield in the Champions League semi-final tells its own story of a squad that lacks strength in depth despite the vast sums spent across the years.
Xabi Alonso was sold to Bayern Munich and although Toni Kroos came the other way, the Spaniard’s know-how and vast experience was not replaced and, partnered with the loss of Modric to injury, an over-exposed midfield has been a factor behind their loss of La Liga and Champions league elimination. There can be certain comparisons made in such oversight to Perez’s naïve comments over the exit of Claude Makelele to Chelsea in 2003.
Alvaro Morata was sold to Juventus for £17 million after finding his route into the Madrid side blocked and he came back to haunt them directly, scoring in both legs of the semi-final, including the killer away goal in the Bernabeu. Meanwhile Bale, signed for a world record £85 million and staunchly defended by Perez in fear of having to admit such a huge transfer may be unsuccessful, continues his desperate struggles for form.
Ancelotti, supported to the end by his players but faced with an ultimatum that he must renovate his back-room staff as the board express unhappiness with the physical conditioning of the squad, has remained loyal and dignified to the end, yet his refusal to conform has been a factor in his undoing.
Perez and his fellow powers will now set about combing over the potential options to see who gets the luxury of becoming Real Madrid’s 12th manager this century. An announcement will follow next week according to Perez, with Napoli’s Rafael Benitez in the frame, though while that is up for debate for the time being, there is one thing nobody can argue with; whoever follows Ancelotti will not last long.