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How one man's billion pound obsession has cost Real Madrid

Why does Real have such an obsession with the Champions League?

FEATURED WRITER
Feature 12 May 2015, 02:42 IST
4.39K
Real Madrid
Real Madrid after winning last year’s Champions League

The era of the Galactico is well and truly alive and kicking in the white half of Madrid. Florentino Perez’s wallet hasn’t been away for long over this past decade, as he continues in search of a Champions League obsession which has eluded him in every season bar the 2013/14 campaign.

Even then it took a 92nd minute Sergio Ramos header to take the game away from an Atletico Madrid side who look destined to win the trophy for the first time in their history. Three times in the past decade Perez has broken the world transfer record and when you tot up the numbers, it really is quite incredible to see the lengths that this Spanish football giant will go to, to place itself at the pinnacle of European and world football again.

In 2002, current Castilla coach Zinedine Zidane swivelled and connected with the most sumptuous volley that you are ever likely to see. It helped Real to win their ninth European Cup/Champions League against Bayer Leverkusen.

Since then, 62 players have been brought in at a cost of well over a billion pounds. Gareth Bale has been the most expensive at £86 million, the 2009/10 season the most notable not for a trophy win but for a £226.51m worth of transfer spend.

That year Cristiano Ronaldo joined in a blaze of publicity at roughly the same time as Kaka and Karim Benzema. Three of the world’s best players who, until recently, weren’t able to make a contribution in the final game of European football’s premier club competition.

Money does not buy you trophies in Football

They followed a long line of A-list players that were similarly unable to bring the success that Perez craved.

David Beckham, Xabi Alonso, Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben, Michael Owen and Fabio Cannavaro. Some of the finest players to ever have ever played the game yet none could bring home that elusive trophy. Not only that but in six successive seasons, Real weren’t even able to get past the last 16. Until last season, the best they could muster was a semi-final appearance.

But maybe that has more to do with the other players that Perez bizarrely sanctioned the purchase of. 

Alfredo di Stefano’s face was a picture when Julien Faubert was wheeled out for his presentation, signing on loan from West Ham. It’s doubtful he would’ve been any more enamoured by the signings of Lassana Diarra, Royston Drenthe and more. Padding out the squad with second-rate footballers was never going to work.

But such was the desire for success at the very highest level that it seemed Real, more specifically Perez, were willing to throw wads of cash away. The saying “more money than sense” definitely applies here.

Perez’s “puppets”?

From the outside looking in, it certainly appeared that whichever manager was in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu, they were nothing more than Florentino’s puppet. Even Fabio Capello was dispensed with at the drop of a hat.

Carlo Ancelotti, fresh from delivering the trophy last season, already appears to be on his last legs in the current campaign. A manager who finally brought Real Madrid their first Champions League in 12 years is about to be consigned to the scrap heap just 12 months later?

The Italian’s calm exterior, tactical prowess and background of having been a Champions League winner as player and manager before taking the reins in Madrid obviously helped him soothe the various egos within the Real dressing room. That part of his management cannot be understated.

Indeed, during the lead up to Real’s “La Decima” victory, a number of media outlets noted the togetherness of the team. Yes, even that was newsworthy, which gives us a further hint of the inner workings of this great institution.

No club has yet managed to retain the Champions League in its current format. Manchester United came closest when they pitched up in Rome to face Barcelona, only to be undone by Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering side.

It could well be that the Catalans, Real’s eternal rivals, stand between them and another slice of history. Barca already have one foot in this year’s final and if Real can overcome a stubborn Juventus side, then we have an El Clasico final for the first time ever in this competition.

That would be one match that Los Blancos dare not lose and we would almost certainly see the break up of the current side if that were to be the case. Only to be replaced by more galactico purchases.

Can this be the end of this Galactico generation?

And therein is the crux of this particular argument.

Yes, if you throw enough money at something, it’s bound to work in your favour at some point, but it has taken Real Madrid over a decade to realise their ultimate potential.

Perez is known to be extremely unhappy at the thought of going yet another season without silverware, but rather than sticking with Ancelotti and allowing him to build for the future of the club, he will toss him aside to make way for another lamb to the slaughter. And so it continues until a manager and a set of players “gets lucky”.

A transfer merry-go-round all of their own doing when, quite frankly, the opposite is necessary.

Does anyone actually remember what Real Madrid was like as an organisation before Perez came bounding into power again? Have the locals not worked out that in fact he is the common denominator here?

Have supporters not considered that their extortionate season ticket prices which the socio members continue to complain about, wouldn’t be half as expensive if the club was allowed some sort of continuity?

Clearly, one Champions League isn’t enough but there appears to be only one man to blame for the situation that the club find themselves in.

One man’s obsession has cost his club a billion pounds.

Madridistas need to think about that for a moment.

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