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Real Madrid have never had a long-term plan after Florentino Perez became club president

After 14 managers in 16 years at the club, Perez is slowly running out of world class managers to hire

Real Madrid managers Florentino Perez eras
Rafa Benitez becomes Real Madrid’s latest managerial casualty under Florentino Perez

Real Madrid have sacked another manager yet again, making Zinedine Zidane their 14th manager in 16 years. The former player and club legend became the Blancos’ first ever French manager after Rafa Benitez was sacked less than seven months into his tenure at the Bernabeu.

The drama that happens almost annually at one of the world’s biggest clubs has become the norm and it is not even funny anymore. While the team’s performances may not have been up to the mark over the years, even the die-hard Real Madrid faithful can only shake their heads as they strive for some form of consistency in the capital club.

This has not been going on for long, though. Between 1910 and 2000, the club had 39 managerial appointments with stalwarts such as Alfredo Di Stefano, Miguel Munoz, Luis Molowny and Vicente Del Bosque taking charge on more than one occasion. 

But since 2000, Real Madrid have had 13 different managers. The ratio drops quite drastically and it also coincides with the appointment of Florentino Perez as the club president.

Zidane Real Madrid
Whether Zinedine Zidane can emulate Pep Guardiola at Barcelona remains to be seen

Florentino Perez has been club president for two different terms

Perez’s first term was between 2000 and he remained president until his resignation in early 2006. The main reason for his resignation was increasing pressure on the Spaniard for his policy on marketing Real Madrid as a brand instead of focusing on the football. While the club was financially well off with an international fan following, the results on the pitch had started to decline after his Galactico policy failed to yield results.

Perez’s penchant for paying good money for attacking players while neglecting defensive minded players proved to be his undoing (remember Claude Makelele putting in a transfer request?). After Champions League success in 2002 and winning the league the next season, the Galacticos failed to win anything of note till Perez’s resignation.

In that time, he had sacked one of their most successful managers in recent years in current Spanish national side manager Vicente Del Bosque in spite of winning La Liga. 

This was arguably the worst decision taken by the club in recent years. Del Bosque had come in and won trophies with a squad bursting at the seams with superstar egos while simultaneously avoiding any altercations or attracting any negativity in the media. There was nothing that unsettled him and his ice-cold veneer was legendary.

And yet, he was sacked without a replacement even being named. 

Vicente Del Bosque
Vicente Del Bosque won two La Liga and two Champions League titles with Real Madrid

Soon after Perez resigned, Fabio Capello came in and won the league as well, although his pragmatic and defensive style of play was scorned by the fans. His successor Bernd Schuster also won the league but a fractured relationship with the media eventually saw him also removed and replaced by Juande Ramos, who didn’t last too long himself.

Perez’s Galactico policy hurt Real Madrid again during his second term

When Perez returned to the fold in 2009, literally buying his way back into the club since he was the only candidate who could provide the €57.3m guarantee, he continued to pay big money and shattering transfer records for stars such as Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale over the years. But on the managerial front, he was still cycling through managers to find the right person. Manuel Pellegrini was appointed manager but he couldn’t sit idly by as Perez dictated who would play. 

“They sign the best players, but not the best players needed in a certain position. It's no good having an orchestra with the 10 best guitarists if I don't have a pianist!

“Real Madrid have the best guitarists, but if I ask them to play the piano they won't be able to do it so well.” – Manuel Pellegrini

Perez finally caught the big fish when he appointed two-time Champions League winner Jose Mourinho who had recently won a treble with Inter Milan. Mourinho had the longest stint for a manager under Perez, lasting three full seasons.

jose mourinho real madrid
Jose Mourinho lasted three full seasons at Real Madrid

Although the Portuguese boss left with one of the highest winning percentages in the club’s history, especially with close to 200 games managed, the Decima proved elusive. Mourinho’s style of management was exhausting the squad and he had proved to be a wedge between the Madrid and Barcelona players in the Spain squad, needing Xavi and Iker Casillas to calm things down – a move that led to Casillas being frozen out by Mourinho and thereby losing the majority of the fans’ love and respect.

Carlo Ancelotti was the ideal candidate and he proved it by winning La Decima – Real Madrid’s long-awaited 10th European title. Ancelotti had also won the Copa Del Rey and was loved by the players and fans. But a second season saw no major trophies and he too was ousted, much to the fans’ bewilderment. 

Carlo Ancelotti Real Madrid
Nobody could understand why Carlo Ancelotti was sacked by Real Madrid

Managers such as Arsene Wenger have rejected the club’s advances with Perez’s hire-and-fire policy in mind. Even Capello had laughed off talk of a possible third stint, even going as far as to say, “Is this a joke?”

There are a number of reasons for letting Benitez go after half a season but Perez is now in danger of running out of world class managers to hire. Zidane is unproven at the highest level and could be a temporary replacement until Perez finds one to take over in the summer.

But even if there are any available, whether they would be open to managing a club in such a poisonous environment where the president decides who plays is also up for debate.

Real Madrid managers since 2000
#ManagerFromToGamesWonDrawnLostGFGAWin%Trophies
1Vicente del BosqueNov 1999Jun 2003233127565046126755.57
2Jose MourinhoMay 2010Jun 2013178128282247516871.93
3Carlo AncelottiJun 2013May 201511989141632310374.74
4Bernd SchusterJul 2007Dec 2008754492215610058.62
5Carlos QueirozJun 2003May 2004593411141137657.61
6Fabio CapelloJuly 2006June 2007502812109155561
7Manuel PellegriniJune 2009May 201048365711948750
8Vanderlei LuxemburgoDec 2004Dec 20054528710834562.20
9Juande RamosDec 2008June 2009271818533466.60
10Rafael BenítezJun 2015Jan 20162517536922680
11Juan Ramon Lopez CaroDec 2005June 20062412934125500
12Mariano García RemonSep 2004Dec 20042012443718600
13Jose Antonio CamachoMay 2004Sep 200464027566.60

Note: Table includes managers from 2000 to 2015 and not just those hired during Perez’s two terms

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