Wednesday, March 25, 2009

View from the kop to the bottom

Posted by A Spaniard in the works,Bangalore
Warning: Long post.

It is time Real took a step to being counted in Europe. It has been alarming to see the team which boasts itself as the owner of the competition stumble at the first knockout hurdle like a well choreographed move every year. It is, therefore, our immediate concern to come up with policy decisions that will ensure the welfare of our beloved club. By means of this article, I hope to shift attention to some of the issues that I had mentioned in an earlier post.

Show me the money.
Real have been sitting on the top of the money league for quite some time now and it is a nice sight to see that we do have the muscle power to compete with the deepest pockets in the game ( and But really, one has to sift through the piles of accounting files to see what creates the biggest waves and what does not. One look at the money leagues and the income levels with what the clubs operate every year becomes clear. Transfer spending is of the order of maybe one tenth of this figure- 50 million pounds in a wholly extravagant case. That is the biggest chunk of how money is spent. Player wages is of course an issue, but in the case of Real which has shifted from the Galactico system, we don't have the astronomical wage bill that we had five years back. So, transfer fees and player wages are the largest expenditures. How about incomes? Players sales is something that we are not good at (more on that later). That leaves us with two more sources- Prize money from competitions is one of them. Winning the UCL would typically make us richer by 20 million pounds. Five for winning the Liga. So... that's what it is coming to. Prize money is literally chicken feed when we spend a crazy sum of money every year. Did someone say gate recepits? That is a decent sum, but on a good European night against marquee oppposition, we stand to make about 3 million pounds on a matchnight. But that might happen two times a season. The answer my friends, as many of you might have guessed, is TV rights. That is the single largest deal. It puts sponsorship deals into the shade. For example, I remember a huge sum being quoted as Real's deal for the next five years or so ( Something in the neighbourhood of a billion). For people who are interested in the kind of money involved in the English Premier League, here is a good read:

This is how teams in England have been able to close the gap with the rest of the continent. They have courted sugar daddies from outside (Called selling their soul in the continent) and more importantly, thrived because of the language which made their foray into the Asian market easier. TV rights are sold in a group mentality. It is extremely perception based and often intangible and difficult to gauge as to why something is worth so much. When something is doing very well, everybody wants a slice of it. The Premier league was a bold step by the English almost twenty years back and almost nobody remembers it today. Dennis Begkamp was the first real international superstar who called England home. The power of perception is another story altogether, which will be discussed in more detail some other time.

Why so serious?
It is particularly disheartening to see how we have degenerated from being Ringmasters/ The Joker to a cheap clown whose pants are pulled down in a trapeze act in the yearly transfer circus. First of all, I am at odds with our transfer policy. While I admire Perez for having grand vision in getting the world's best players to play for our clubs and then end up making more money by merchandising, I cannot but think aloud whether that was the system that brought us our downfall. For one, we bought players for astrononmical sums at the height of their powers only to see that they were on a slippery slope two years later- we were stuck with (pardon the phrase) a load of White elephants. Don't get me wrong. I do want only the best players playing for Real. But, I am selfish too. I want those players to be discovered here- that is, I want their best phase of their careers to be spent at Real. The galactico policy, unfortunately did not ensure that. Ever wonder if we had bought Cristiano Ronaldo after the 2006 World cup? We would have benefitted the most by getting more goals by paying lesser money. We make a habit of buying stars. We have to be the temple of talent- people must be discovered and celebrated here. Right now, we come across like a pampered kid at the supermarket- crying to daddy for the most expensive and fancy toy in the aisle. If I have to put our transfer shenanigans figuratively and literally, this picture should sum it up the best.
(Note: the heights of the fingers indicate the market value and the ability of the footballer with time).

These are the five stages that we have been showing with almost everybody:
1) Little finger- The player shows some promise with some second rung club, but we are quick to ignore the poor fella as a piece of piss.
2) Ring finger- A couple of seasons later, the lad has made it big. We start openly courting the player.
3) Middle finger- We buy him at the maximum ability and market price after showing the middle finger to the selling club.
4) Forefinger- We watch many performances and then start pointing fingers at him when his form starts dipping.
5) Thumb- We have kept the (now clearly fat and unfit) player way beyond the sell by date. We torment him, then sell him at a ridiculous price and the poor fellow has to pack his bags and hitchhike a ride out of the club.

For a club of Real Madrid's stature, we need to have majority of the players close to the peak of their careers. So, in this case, we need to buy players at phase 2 and sell them at phase 4. But a consequence of the Galactico policy meant that we bought players at 28 and then were not able to sell them for a reasonable sum when their abilities went down the hill. Look at how we sold Ronaldo, Carlos and Figo. Did they have the farewell they deserved? We have problems in dealing with the "autumn" phases of players. In other words, we are not a selling club. We are a buying club. On the other hand, we are not a good buying club as well! When was the last time we got a serious bargain on a deal? In the recent past, only RVN counts as a good return on investment. Let us have a look at the last three signings that we made- Lass, Huntelaar and Van der Vaart, all of whom were panic signings. This does not augur well for a club which prides itself as one of the best (If not the best) in the world. On the other hand, here is a look at the kind of players whom we were linked to in the past few years, but we did not end up buying them.(Warning: There are obviously other players whom we were linked to and did not end up doing well, so this list is not representative, but only done to prove a point):

1) Xabi Alonso- was almost done deal. He is a fixture in the Liverpool side now. We miss a player of his type in away games.
2) Zlatan Ibrahimovic- We had two chances to get him- at the time Juve got him for 11 million pounds and then when he moved to Inter, both times on a small fee considering his talent.
3)Cristiano Ronaldo- I am stirring a hornet's nest here. The best time to buy him would have been immediately after the 2006 World cup.
4) Frank Ribery- We missed him at the time Bayern got him. In 2007.
5) Ronaldinho- He was a big star at the 2002 world cup, but we did not go for him. The cruel irony in this player's transfer was that both him and Beckham were linked to us and Barcelona. Both clubs wanted Beckham. Barcelona had to settle for Gaucho. We went on a downward spiral since. Was it a case of the ugly duckling turning into the beautiful swan later on?
6) David Villa- The time to buy him was when he moved to Valencia from Zaragoza. Now, he is 27 and we run the risk of repeating our mistakes by overpaying for him.

The bottom line is that we are not necessarily the number one destination for some of football's top talents anymore.

I hope I am driving the point here. Perhaps our buying attitude is best summed at the line the old woman utters in this iconic scene from the eighties ( Wait for the line at the very end! We try to chase stars when we they have a couple of headline making seasons. Truth be told, we must actually kick ourselves as to why we had not signed them in the first place so that they could have taken us to greater things in our club. Of course, I have the advantage of hindsight and hence there is no glory in the armchair critic role that I am playing!

Which clubs transfer policy do I idolize in that case? I have three in my mind. They don't necessarily compete with us at our level, but what they have achieved is commendable- Sevilla, Arsenal and Lyon.

Sevilla and Lyon are similar clubs- most of the week in week out players are people who they have bought in an extremely shrewd manner- bargain buys. They end up playing hardball when they sell them to bigger clubs- Dani Alves, Kanoute, Poulsen, Baptista, Essien, Diarra, Malouda. Arsenal is a different matter altogether. It is a club which I worship for their transfer policy. Arsene Wenger's penchant for young lads is probably as much as Micheal Jackson's (Supposed to be a joke. No offence meant to the fans). Along with that Wenger also got some bargain buys like Sol Campbell, Toure, Vieira and others. What is to be learnt from Wenger is his estimate of what a particular player can offer to the club- how much a player still has in reserve. Wenger has sold every player at the right time, that is, after extracting everything from them. It is the rule rather than the exception. I would go on to say never buy from Arsenal! It is no sheer coincidence that Sol Campbell, Vieira, Henry, Pires, Hleb and others have never managed to hit the same level. This is exactly where the Galactico policy envisioned by Perez has failed. It is not a long term strategy and it is highly unlikely that we would remain lucky in terms of big name signings. It makes better finanacial sense to diversify risk- to buy three players for lesser sums of money compared to one signing for an amount that would sell the club's kidney and end up not being able to flush out the waste at a later stage. It is this policy that has hurt us when the stars are no longer being able to perform at the level we want them to. The ability to estimate reserve capacity is something that we must learn from Arsenal.
The point to be noted is that we must learn to bargain like Lyon and Sevilla and to estimate talent and ability like Arsenal.

Our decomposition due to team composition
The Liga and UCL have certain rules that we have to abide with and hence attribute our success/ failure based on them. The extremely popular orkut community has a couple of links to what the team composition should be. The Liga allows registration of 25 players for a year, but only 3 non EU nationals are allowed to play on a match day. In the case of UCL squad registration of 25, a minimum of
4 players trained by the club- Raul, Guti, Dani Pajero, DLR, Miguel Torres
4 players trained by Spanish clubs- Salgado, Ramos. Extra players from first list can fit in here. Total of 8 players.
One look at this list reveals that we have hardly any quality to show in terms of endorsing players from the club/ country. That has been beautifully described in article on how we must rely on domestic powers. So, one third of our squad is not upto the mark when we register them for UCL. It is going to be even worse in the future as Raul and Guti will retire. For years now, we have neglected home made food.

What should be other criteria while signing players? Age is very important. Worldover, the age at which players are peaking in various sports has gone down by two or three years. Traditionally, it was thought that the best years of a footballer's life were between 26-30. That figure has gone down due to increasing the pace of the game. Now, the game is ruled by people on the other side of 25. The schedule is also extremely punishing for a footballer. A top level footballer has to play around 60 to 70 games for both club and country level. Squad rotation is absolutely necessary. Lets us remember the last time when a person performed for both club and country with equal elan? Have a look at EURO 2008 and you will find that none of the club stars showed up at the continental competition. This is a dangerous trend and FIFA has to look into that. The same thing happened at 2002 and 2006 with Zidane and Ronaldinho. They had minimal impact due to a crowded club calendar. We also need to buy in a phased manner so that the overall quality is more or less the same. That is the way Manchester United operates. Having a nucleus with similarly aged players is dangerous- they end up peaking at the same time- Los Galacticos, AC Milan recently, followed by a slump. Thankfully, we have a good age distribution. We need to have two players for each position- ideally separated by age as one can be the starter and the other a substitute based on how they grow old together. Just like Higuain and RVN when both are fit.

How do we stack up now?
A world class team which has to compete for many trophies has to have these many players, based on the variety of tactics we can play atleast:
3 Goalkeepers- We are well covered. We need to replace Dudek if he leaves.
8 Defenders- Two in each position. A couple of utility men. Left back is shaky. Cannavaro has to be replaced also.
3 Defensive midfielders- Well covered.
3 Central midfielders- We need them to step up to the level.
3 Wide players- We have one. Ideally, we need people who can play on either wing.
5 Forwards- RVN and Raul are getting old. Higuain and KJH are the two long term prospects.

Add the age distribution and our criteria for UCL/ Liga, our headache is complete! Also, we need to differentiate between a long term and short term signing- based on how much we can get back from them. For example RVN was an short term signing. Higuain was long term. The amount of money spent on them should be tied to how much they can contribute.

One swallow does not make a summer
I hope I have made my point clear as to how we are risking too much by buying one superstar for an insane amount of money. Instead, a better transfer strategy in the summer would be better for the club both financially and tactically. After much deliberation, I have come up with a list of players whom I believe we can get. Valencia seems to be a good place to raid. Here are some of the players that interest me:
1) David Villa- It will be a tug of war with other clubs. In any case, he will be competing with Raul for a starting place.
2) Silva- Not necessary in my opinion. We need to play more often with four in midfield.
3)Raul Albiol- Good buy, handy man in defence. Should be gettable.
4) Miguel- Backup for Ramos. Good replacement for Salgado.
5) Joaquin- Short term wide player. Moody though. Has to be a sub most of the time if we get Ribery.

The players from other clubs:
1)Backup keeper- This is in case Dudek leaves. I wanted to sign Cudicini as he must be the most unambitious player of all time. But Spurs stole him. Kameni and Asenjo come to my mind from the Liga. I also have another keeper suggestion in mind with super potential who has been rotting in Getafe. Oscar Ustari.
2) Centre back- None other than Chiellini from Juventus. He can play at left back also which is an added bonus. Extremely solid. Daniel Agger sounds ok too.
3) Right winger- Ribery. No other choice. CR7 will not be worth the money.
4) Utility player- Dario Srna. Super free kick taker and crosser of the ball. Can play at right back and right wing.
5) Young defenders- Three names come to my mind- Cristian Zapata from Udinese, Fabiano Santacroce from Brescia and Mamadou Sakho from PSG.
5) Forwards- Benzema seems like a good long term prospect, but I would rather go for Villa as I feel he will not go to City. It will be easier to land him.
6) Left back- Zhirkov seems to be a crowd favourite. To be honest, I don't have any choice to make here.

In my dream scenario, I would like to get all of them!
But realistically speaking, this is what I hope will happen.
Out- Salgado, Heinze, Cannavaro, Drenthe (loan), Saviola, RVN, Javi Garcia
In- Villa, Ribery, Srna, Chiellini, Ustari, Zapata, Raul Albiol. Replacements from the Valencia list if these are not available.

I hope we have early elections so that we will be able to complete our signings early. It is to our advantage that we have no major competitions this year. It is a regular feature that price inflation happens for a player who has done very well in an international tournament. This year, the Confederations cup will be held, but I don't expect any major excitement due to the low density of top quality players. This tournament is also optional for Copa America and EURO winners. The top teams might also send weakened teams.

Hoping for a good summer,
Hala Madrid!

P.S: RVN might look like a harsh choice. I absolutely admire him as a player. The problem is that he has been getting injured too often of late. Real were interested in keeping him until 2009 but he wanted to sign for one more year. If he can stay injury free for one more year (which I doubt), he still will have a lot to offer. But, keeping him and Raul on the bench will be a major headache. So, we might as well make some money by selling him to Milan (my guess). Again, it is a call that I don't want to take, but if it is my opinion alone and I don't expect many of you to agree with me. In fact, I am hating myself for writing this line!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Great Man Called “Santiago Bernabeu Yeste”

Posted by Suresh J.V,India

Santiago Bernabeu” is the two words which are synonymous with Real Madrid. Santiago Bernabeu the stadium is the battle field of many great victories of Real Madrid. It’s the Mecca for club football and a coliseum of sorts, however many of us don’t know or have forgotten about a equally gigantic figure of “Santiago Bernabeu Yeste”, after whom the club stadium was named. Santiago was everything of true Madrismo and even more. He was a player, coach, a manager & president of Real Madrid. Everyone loved him for his passion and commitment for football in Real Madrid. Even Real Madrid with it’s glorious past was second best with out Santi and his work (People called Bernabeu as Santi affectionately). Santiago Bernabeu took over the reigns of Real Madrid presidency by divine intervention, when the government re appointed the presidents of Real Madrid and Barcelona after a Fan violence in one of the el classico matches. The time Santiago took over, as the president there was only one Madrid team which was popular and that wasn’t Real Madrid, but the cross town rivals Atletico Madrid. Along with Barcelona & Atletico Bilbao they were most dominating in Spain.

Santiago Bernabeu was loved by the fans and neutrals alike because of his commitment & loyalty towards football in Real Madrid. He single handedly grafted the glorious history on which our club stands today. Santiago took over as the president in year 1943 and he remained the president till death separated him and Real Madrid in 1978. During all these years our club didn’t need a president vote out because Santi’s loyalty, commitment & his vision for the club was unparalleled. It was Santiago Bernabeu’s vision to see elite clubs of the continent play each other to decide the best and their Champions league was born.

After the glorious years of our great president our team started loosing it’s glory not because we didn’t have great players, we had some of the modern day greats like Zidane, Figo, Ronaldo, Hierro, Raul, Owen, & other play for our team with pride but we didn’t have a president who had the passion and vision to take Real Madrid to new heights. Of late we have had presidents who were construction magnets, very successful businessmen, extremely popular lawyers, but none of them could compensate the loss of a true Madrismo in Santiago Bernabeu. Our club doesn’t need president’s who can work to fill the coffers of the club, but true and loyal Madrista’s who can work to fill those gaps in trophy cabinets. It’s about time that we get a president re incarnated with the qualities of Santiago Bernabeu. Is the god listening???

Hala Madrid

Friday, March 20, 2009

Institutional Crisis

Posted by Timo Grandovec,Slovenia

Once, there was a Real Madrid. Royal Madrid. Under the leadership of Santiago Bernabeu Yeste and the likes such as Mendoza, Real Madrid became the most successful club of the XX Century. This Club, this Madrid was the best, a Club worth all of the respect, valued by all universal worlds. We had the generation of Di Stefano, then the Ye-Yes, in the 80s were dominating La Quinta del Buitre. Those were the times, when the this original Madrid had identity, values and consecutive successes. The players in Madrid were players with soul, they were aware of the identity of the Club and it true meaning. Those golden times lasted till La Nonata, till the 9th European Cup.

Then, Florentino Perez brought Madrid under the dark clouds. Figo, Zidane were great, then suddenly number of unnecessary signings started to flow. Beckham, Owen,… and on the other side great players had to leave such as Hierro, McMannaman, Solari, Morientes, players who played for the golden generation under Del Bosque, who sadly had to leave too. Del Bosque, the personification of madridismo is a tragic figure of the mess that is surrounding my Madrid. Everytime I wonder, why did he have to leave? He could be the Madrid’s Ferguson, even more!
Of course, Madrid went through the times of Galacticos, which were disastrous. The years of drought went on from 2003 till 2007. And the coaches were also changing faster like I change my underwear. From gulls like Queiroz, Luxemburgo, to the homeguys like Ramon, Caro, and Camacho. Boneheads or not, none of them were given a chance. Either you dominate like a lion, or you go. That was the policy. No trust, no long-term project, no nothing. Just buying stars and changing coaches. This Madrid was a shame to Madrid from the XX Century. What happened with Santiago Bernabeu? The place who was a place to support your team, became a social meeting point, where you can eat peanuts. Too much armanis dolcesgabannas, to little sweatshirts. The true shame for men were Liverpool fans who totally overcame the madridistas at Santiago Bernabeu in 1/8 CL finals. Shame…
When Calderon came to power it all got even worse. Clownderon and Peja. Stupid clowns, I can’t be calm when I think about them. They were the men, who sold the last piece of reputation. No plan, no long-term project, neglecting the home-grown powers… Still only Capello and nobody else gave us the trophy. Glory to him. He confronted the clowns and even managed to win something. Still Real Madrid was driving to the institutional crisis tirelessly, where the old man in Junta and establishment are defending their own piece of garden. That is the institutional crisis that we are finding ourselves now, only without Clownderon. A bunch of old, elitist, senile men are the cause for such a big crisis that Madrid has managed.
Now I see that Perez would take almost all the votes of madridistas in summer elections. Stupidity, shame. The man who started all this shit, who started a policy without a plan and long-term project, will again rule in Grada Blanca. I am greatly disappointed. I am confused, how all the madridistas are blind that it is not the world stars like Ronaldo and Kaka who bring you successes, but good policy, projects and most of all… Madridismo (!). Signing stars are the symptom of headless planning…
Yeah.. this is today’s Madrid. Madrid of forgotten glory and forgotten spirit. And most of all, Madrid has became Crazy Circus Madrid.

hala madrid

Renovating a Coliseum

Posted by: Ashay K, India
When a certain Andrea Dossena struck a final nail in the coffin of Real Madrid in the form of Liverpool’s 4th goal and his first goal for Liverpool (and 6th overall), everyone knew that things are very wrong at Real Madrid and a major restructuring needs to be done, so that we can have some semblance in Europe.

But having a semblance is not enough, we are Real Madrid. We need to reclaim our right, and what would be better than lifting La Decima at the Bernabeu in front of 85,000 rapturous Madridistas and over a million worldwide. Sounds Impossible? Maybe. But our kit makers have always stressed “Impossible is Nothing”, and we have to believe it is possible. It is possible, provided we make the right changes at the right time. The Coliseum (read Santiago Bernabeu) is in a state of neglect and we need to renovate it.

A new Caesar

Where the club needs to start is at the top level and then work its way down the bottom. And all this needs to be accomplished in 2-3 months of pre-season. When the season resumes, we need to have things and a game plan in place, else we can be sure of traversing the same road of indignity once more.

Since the last 7 years we’ve had Caesars the likes of Commodus who are responsible for the downfall of our empire and advisors like Rasputin, responsible for advising an empire into extinction. What we need now are not politicians but real socios; someone who bleeds Merengue through and through. Someone who understands Real Madrid and feels for Real Madrid with the least possible political leanings. A good thing is that our election dates have been pre-poned to May, which gives us ample time to select a real leader, one who can carry the brunt of turning things around for our club. The leaders contesting for elections should have all their plans of renovation in place which they exhibit to the socios as part of their election campaign. The socios should then take a realistic call on the possible candidates, choosing only that person who has the club’s best interests at heart with a solid and realistic plan to back it up.

Marca polls indicate that Florentino Perez has 91% chances of succeeding at the election campaign and I feel this is where socios take a big chance without understanding the risks involved. Even other presidential candidates are now wary of running in for the campaign. After all, why fight a battle, which is already lost? We don’t even know of Perez’s plans for renovation. He has never approached the media directly and most of the newsbytes making the rounds is pure speculation. Yet, fuelled by this speculation, most of us are ready to believe the “make-believe”.

Marca has always been labeled as a Madrid bIased daily. But for all the bias, Marca has been instrumental in spoiling many things at the club and the interim club management should take pro-active steps to curb the Madrid based daily’s outlandish claims which hurt the image of the club and condition the perception of its readers and presidential contenders ahead of the election campaign.

Exodus of Mercenaries

Football, over the years, has undergone a significant change and is now as much of a business as it is sport and entertainment. With all the big bucks pouring into the game from various avenues, the new breed of players tends to be mercenaries, ready to go to battle for the highest bidder. In this age and time, it’s necessary to recognize the mercenaries from real players. We do not need mercenaries playing for us. Real Madrid has always been about passion, grit and determination and mercenaries have none.

We have players pocketing 5 million salaries and content to sit out on bench. We have players who joined Real Madrid because of the brand, but have done little to do justice to their inclusions. At a club like Real Madrid, you get 1-2 chances to cut it, and if you’re good enough you take those. If you’re not, you don’t. We have old horses, which simply don’t have it in them to play at the highest level anymore. Then again, we have players, who have become the crowds’ enemies and get constantly booed out. If this was not enough and if latest reports are to be believed, we have a rift of sorts in our dressing room, which doesn’t bode well with the rest of the team in the best of times. And the time is as worst as it can get.

An immediate solution would be that every presidential candidate has his own realistic shortlist of players they want out, players they want to stay and players they want to get in, all subject to the coach’s final word on the matter. A useful premise for the last goal would be to look inwards first (at home talent) and then extrapolate outside, if the requisite talent cannot be sought. The other important question that candidates need to ask themselves before making their respective shortlist is, “Do we have players of world class quality, capable of turning a match?” If not (and the answer currently is a resounding NO), then we should identify the existing players who have potential to be world class, dismiss the rest who don’t and have a realistic wish list of players fitting the bill.

Painting the Coliseum White

Finally we move down to the granular level, where the problem is the most critical and glaringly apparent. The problem with Real Madrid is that years of lack of consistency, lack of planning, abundance of mismanagement, and neglect of the Castilla have made the club lose its sense of identity and thereby fall from grace down into Pot 2 of UCL with Villareal overtaking us in UEFA Rankings. The cause of all these problems is quite simple if you ask me. I feel that the reason that Real Madrid is where it is today, because we have lost the white from Madrid. The white is present only as a jersey color. There is no madridismo left today. Gone are the days when individuals like the great Santiago Bernabeu poured their own sweat and blood and money into the club. Instead we have individuals like Calderon who use money earned from the sweat and blood of others for their personal gains.

We, at Real Madrid, need to start looking inwards if we are to right our flaws. Every single person in our club establishment should be a self confessed Madridista. We should promote our Castilla over everything else, because players bred in the Castilla are better players at Real Madrid than foreigners of the same caliber. We need to have madridistas at helms of different enabling functions like our talent scouting team, the medics’ team and the club administration. We need to have stability when it comes to coaches. As a club, Real Madrid has seen more coaches in the last 7 years than some clubs have done since their inception. We need to stop this “win something or get out” mentality. It is not possible for anyone to win every single time, how much ever we try and aspire to win. We need to get our identity back and a footballing philosophy to call our own. We need to get rid of the fanatical, radical, racist Ultra Sur from the Santiago Bernabeu. They are nothing but a bunch of fascist fanatics and we, along with football in general, can certainly do without them.

Lastly, we as Madridistas need to be patient and realistic. There’s no harm in dreaming of winning, but we have to be realistic in recognizing our shortcomings and keeping our expectations realistic. We cannot allow ourselves to boo our own players in our own home ground. We cannot allow away fans to raise more clamour than us in our own stadium. Things like these undermine a team’s morale. It is the right of a fan to expect good football every single time from the team that they support, but what we should understand that it is the right of a player to expect his home crowd to cheer for the team even when all hope seems lost.


The only trivial human emotion which is sustaining a million fans clamouring for improvement.

Juande Ramos???....

Posted by Paulo Martin,Spain

As all managers Juande Ramos has his pros and cons, here are a few of each to try and help you make up your mind if he is the right man for the job or if Real Madrid should yet again search for a new manager.


Juande has managed to make Real Madrid the only team in primera who hasn't lost a game 2009.

He took over at the club when it was 9 points away from Barça. After losing in the Camp Nou Real Madrid was 12 points away, since then the team has managed to claw its way within 4 points of Barça and is now only 6 points away.

Winning Run
Real Madrid has managed to close the gap between Barça thanks to a phenomenal run of 10 straight wins.

Defensive Capacity
One of Juande`s great achievement's was making the team defensively strong again. Real Madrid has only let in 12 goals since Juande arrived between Liga and Champions League games.


Unattractive Play
One of the things that Juande receives most criticism for is that the team fails to play to the football the fans want.

Big Game Failure
Since his arrival Juande has managed the club against 4 big teams; against Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and the two matches against Liverpool in the Champions League.
All of which the team has failed to win.

Substitutions & Tactical Errors
He has given the team certain consistency but some of his substitution's are questionable such as limiting Van Der Vaart's playing time and playing with 2 defensive minded players midfielders. Also that he made some questionable tactical changes such as playing with Lass as a right back against Atletico.

Eliminated From Europe
The main reason why Juande was bought in was for his experience in Europe. The club had high expectations for the Champions League yet the team was unable to beat Liverpool over two legs.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Departed

Posted by: Ashay K, India.

There was a time when the famous white shirts used to inspire fear in the hearts of the opposite team. Ironically, white symbolized Peace back then, but the whites at the Santiago Bernabeu symbolized anything but. White still symbolizes Peace, we’re at Peace as well; which is all very good had it not been for the fact that we’ve been eliminated early on in the Copa Del Rey (again!) and have been eliminated in the round of 16 in UCL (again!) for the 5th consecutive time conceding 5 goals over 2 legs in what amounts to as our worst exit from the UCL for some years.

Was this expected? I yet have to meet a single madridista who answered “no” with complete vehemence to this question. We all expected this to happen, because we all knew of the problems brewing just under the surface. We kept telling ourselves “If it aint broke, don’t fix it”. What we conveniently tried to ignore that we were indeed broken all this while. La Pelicula, without wings; and we expected it to fly. The loss to Liverpool, as labeled by the press “was on the worst shock defeats for Real Madrid”.

Worst? Yes. Shock? No.

We always took all the negative newsbytes with a pinch of salt, laughing some of them off with arrogance. And by God, we did have the right to be arrogant. We were the Royal Madrid. An epitome of grandeur and that which symbolized the best there ever is. We ignored the trouble and mismanagement brewing up. We chose not to do anything about the twisted agendas of people managing the club for the past 5 years. We chose to ignore our youth and lose our footballing philosophy. Until that 4-0 loss against Liverpool. It was the jolt that Real Madrid needed, has needed since a long time. A blessing in disguise? Who knows. But one thing is for certain. We have woken up. We have realized that we are collectively responsible for the loss of our identity as a club. We’ve seen it ourselves and seen that coliseum called Santiago Bernabeu has degenerated. We’ve fallen down from that hallowed pedestal that we’ve always considered a birthright. Words from a song come to mind...

“My black backpack's stuffed with broken dreams,
20 bucks should get me through the week.
Never said a word of discontentment;
Fought it a thousand times but now
I'm coming home”
…How fittingly appropriate in the meaning they convey.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lost Blancos

Posted by Shibarjun Ghosh,India

Yet again we have are a laughing stock of European football. Humiliated, mutilated, battered ,torn apart and the worst of all… laughed at. A day of ignominy, shame and infamy for the great institution that this club once used to be. Our prestige has been hurt, our pride has been dented  and yet again we have been reduced to a laughing stock . Outplayed, outdone outmaneuvered and  outshone by an outstanding Liverpool side who had the Kops making themselves count unlike the Madrid faithfuls in the Bernabeu who were present in almost twice their no but their decibels really did not help to suggest their numerical superiority…..may be it could spring from an inherent mentality that their club is obligated to win. Wake up time may be.

 Yet again our official website may post an article stating the 4-0 thumping by Liverpool as just another “minor setback” and may draw some incredulous positives out of it…..may be like…we didn’t have the worst result on the match day….Sporting Lisbon were thumped 12-1 (on agg) by Bayren Munich…we were much better ..just a 5-0.

 Its time to sit up and shrug off  any feeling of superiority that we may still have due to our past laurels if we don’t want our future generations to use the word “Real Madrid” as a phrase describing something that  used to be great. Six years in a row…twice to English(Liverpool and Arsenal) and once each to French (Monaco),Italian(Roma) and German(Bayren) opposition…we have let ourselves to be toyed with in the prestigious Champions league. Five seasons have passed and we are still where we were five seasons back…ie still trying to push through the round of 16s.

 We have lost the prestige we once used to command in Europe and  clubs are seeing us as easy pushovers…certainly not exactly the vision that  the Santiago Bernabeus and the Alfredo Di Stefanos had envisioned for the club. Our expensive foreign imports are failing to perform at the big stage and former cantera discards Benitez and Arbeloa are staring back into our eyes with a wry smile on their lips and a gleam in their eyes and a victory in their bag .. making us realize what we have let go off. Something that Eto’o, Morientes,Pedro Munitis and a host of other players have done over the years.

 Now what???....sack a coach whom we have given a six month contract and who have given us ten la liga wins on the trot??? Or may be sack the Sporting Director who made a mockery of the club and its prestige in the summer transfer market .. something which led to a lot of complications previously in the season???? Or sell some of our promising youngsters to get our hands on some hyped and expensive foreign imports ..only for them to come back and haunt us yet again????...or may be pull back our socks and do enough soul searching so that when in 2010 in the last week of May the Champions League finals is played at the Bernabeu…80,000 madrisimos get to see their home team lift the trophy for the tenth time .


Posted by Rai Krol,India

Third best consecutive win`s run in the history of Real Madrid.
With its win on Saturday Real Madrid equaled the run of 10 consecutively wins that Barcelona had this same season and that was broken, precisely, ironically with a loss to Espanyol.

But, also, the White`s are also forcing to re-right the history books. In 1960-1961 season, with the legendary Miguel Munoz as manager, Real Madrid effectuated a run of 15 consecutive wins. A record that to this day is history in the liga and remains unbeaten.
The season after that, Real Madrid again reached an incredible figure of 11 consecutive wins, also with Miguel Munoz as the manager.
So, Saturday, in the derby, Juande Ramos has the great opportunity of matching the historical 11 consecutive wins record from 1961. The truth be told Juande Ramos is reaching certain league statistics that nobody had imagined. He lost his first game against Barcelona, when he had only been working with the team for 5 days and since then he hasn't lost a single point.

The consequences of all this is the substantial reduction of points between Real Madrid and Barcelona. From 12 to 4 and counting ...