Real Madrid: What is the root cause of the problem at the Bernabeu outfit?
History and philosophy of the club
Here we have a club that has been historically burdened not only with the responsibility of winning major titles but also with the responsibility of entertaining its fans. Attacking football is entertaining, isn't it?
I mean, who wants to see a bus parked in front of the goal only to be dispersed at the slightest opportunity of a counter-attack? Don't misunderstand me. Counter-attacking football is also very entertaining, but only if it's fast.
For a club like Real Madrid wherein the anthem itself says "Ya ataca mi Madrid", attacking football used to be so important that Jupp Heynckes was relieved of his duties as the manager of Real Madrid shortly after winning Madrid's first European Cup in 1998 following a draught of more than 3 decades. His only crime being employing a balanced approach to both attack and defence.
Reaction to rival's success
Nevertheless, attacking football dictated the norm at Madrid for only about a decade longer. Perhaps it was their utter contempt for a certain Catalan club, that the resurgence of the tiki-taka under the masterful guidance of Pep Guardiola forced them to rethink their strategy. In the year 2009, FC Barcelona became the first Spanish club to win a continental treble.
Thereafter, Florentino Perez decided that winning titles was more important than sticking to a style of play that required certain modifications in conformance with the flow of time.
What Jose Mourinho did...
In came Jose Mourinho, a man whose style of play had its foundations deeply entrenched in a rock solid defence and counter-attacking football. Jose Mourinho shifted the entire paradigm at Madrid. His style of play and his transfer policy turned Real Madrid into a purely counter-attacking team.
In my opinion, this was a mistake. Yes, I know that Madrid became the first club to break the 100 points barrier in top-flight Spanish football under Mourinho. Notwithstanding the success that Mourinho enjoyed at Madrid, he didn't manage Madrid the way Madrid needed him to.
What he should have done...
The true essence of managing a football club lies in creating a system that best suits the players and gets the maximum out of them. Jose Mourinho did the exact opposite of that at Madrid. He created a system that best suited him and employed it as per his convenience.
Instead of getting the maximum out of what he had available to him, he simply removed what did not fit in his system and added new pieces. This approach did more harm than good to Real Madrid.
For instance, Mauricio Pochettino has never had a blockbuster transfer window at any point of time during his stint at Tottenham Hotspur, and yet, he has been able to improve Spurs by leaps and bounds.
It all boils down to how well you can utilize the resources that are available to you. Jose Mourinho simply discarded what did not suit him. Unfortunately, his trophy cabinet blinded the Board of Directors at Real Madrid to the actual need of the club.
Success does not define a good football manager. A good football manager defines success.
In my opinion, a good football manager creates a system as per his players' abilities. Never once did Mourinho consider creating a system that could best utilize the players that he had at his disposal at Madrid.
He created a system and tried to fit the players in it. Those who did fit in it were kept. Those who did not fit in it were discarded. This method delivered short-term success. It proved to be detrimental to the club in the long term.
Why the reaction went wrong...
In response to Pep Guardiola's treble-winning Barcelona, Florentino Perez should have brought in someone like Vicente del Bosque or at least someone who could tweak the default settings at Madrid instead of creating a new Madrid altogether.
Jose Mourinho introduced a system that only he knows how to utilize best thereby making it almost impossible for subsequent managers to carry on from where he left. Carlo Ancelotti had to start everything from scratch at Madrid.
Despite that being the case, Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane were smart enough to salvage the situation at hand and they were both incredible hits at Madrid. I sympathize with Rafa Benitez and Julen Lopetegui. Not all of us were cut out for a job as huge as managing Madrid, especially the one that Mourinho left behind.
The entire onus of Madrid's problems cannot be put on Mourinho. It's been over 5 years since Mourinho left Madrid. It must be noted that much of the mess at Madrid has been a product of certain knee-jerk reactions from the Madrid hierarchy.
Carlo Ancelotti should have completed at least 3 years at Madrid before he was shown the door and Zinedine Zidane could have continued from where Ancelotti left. In the year 2015, FC Barcelona won its second continental treble.
That did it. One trophyless season was all that the president of Real Madrid needed to decide that Ancelotti was not the right man. I don't even want to go about explaining how immature that move was.
The way things stand at the moment, I refuse to believe that the current Madrid squad lacks quality. There are some people who claim that Florentino Perez has not invested in good players. I totally disagree with this idea. It's just absurd.
Following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid still boasts one of the best football squads in the world. Very few football clubs are blessed with players brimming with sheer talent such as the ones that Los Blancos currently have at their disposal.
It's not about buying a big player. It's about buying the right player.
The departure of Ronaldo obviously did have an impact on the club, but that can never be used as an excuse for not being able to improvise and manipulate the resources at hand in order to maximize the output. That is the job of the manager.
Los Blancos do not lack quality. There is just no one to utilize it to its maximum potential. An optimistic Real Madrid fan would hope Santiago Solari to deliver, especially after winning his first trophy with Real Madrid in the form of the Club World Cup.
A slightly realistic Real Madrid fan would be a little more cautious keeping two 0-3 humiliations to Eibar and CSKA Moscow in mind.