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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|1||Vicente del Bosque||Nov 1999||Jun 2003||233||127||56||50||461||267||55.5||7|
|2||Jose Mourinho||May 2010||Jun 2013||178||128||28||22||475||168||71.9||3|
|3||Carlo Ancelotti||Jun 2013||May 2015||119||89||14||16||323||103||74.7||4|
|4||Bernd Schuster||Jul 2007||Dec 2008||75||44||9||22||156||100||58.6||2|
|5||Carlos Queiroz||Jun 2003||May 2004||59||34||11||14||113||76||57.6||1|
|6||Fabio Capello||July 2006||June 2007||50||28||12||10||91||55||56||1|
|7||Manuel Pellegrini||June 2009||May 2010||48||36||5||7||119||48||75||0|
|8||Vanderlei Luxemburgo||Dec 2004||Dec 2005||45||28||7||10||83||45||62.2||0|
|9||Juande Ramos||Dec 2008||June 2009||27||18||1||8||53||34||66.6||0|
|10||Rafael Benítez||Jun 2015||Jan 2016||25||17||5||3||69||22||68||0|
|11||Juan Ramon Lopez Caro||Dec 2005||June 2006||24||12||9||3||41||25||50||0|
|12||Mariano García Remon||Sep 2004||Dec 2004||20||12||4||4||37||18||60||0|
|13||Jose Antonio Camacho||May 2004||Sep 2004||6||4||0||2||7||5||66.6||0|
Note: Table includes managers from 2000 to 2015 and not just those hired during Perez’s two terms