Thursday, October 29, 2009

This month's Poll: Title year for Real?

Part I

The poll asks the very interesting question as to whether Real Madrid should be expected to win a title this season. Most (the envious) would say something like:

"Of course they must... they spent € 1/4 bn in one season!"

"They have two of the best players in the world in one starting 11: Ronaldo and Kaká - what else do they need?"

or as one of the answers in the poll suggests:

"They have to, otherwise their president and manager will get fired, it's Real Madrid after all..."

This last one is the problematic one. After several years of ridicule in the Real Madrid presidency, Florentino Pérez has returned to try and restore faith in the club's fans and bring joy to Madrid as a football capital.

Now, let's note, that this is the same man that once sacked Vicente Del Bosque after winning a League title because "he seemed exhausted" to replace him with Man Utd's Carlos Queiroz with horrid results. He's also the man that let the last hero of 90's for Real, Fernando Hierro without a grand finale!

However, let's not forget that he did manage to bring the world's best players to the club and to play well together. He also managed to restore the club's finances using an aggressive investment policy and very daring strategic approach to the club's assets.

The first (word not to be repeated again) "Galácticos" phase, with the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Ronaldo Nazario & David Beckham, seem to be the aim of the new "Floren Team", but even though this first era had a gradual build up over three years, the new project seems to be compressed into one.

This simply means that there must be patience. Let's not forget that even though heavy investment was made this season, there were also many players who left this year (Sneijder, Robben, Cannavaro, Huntelaar, Negredo.... etc) and that nearly €150m was made from the sale of these players leaving the net investment closer to €100m, a figure comparable to some other European clubs (Manchester City, Chelsea other years, Barcelona, Internazionale...). So with a new starting 11 with five new faces: Raúl Albiol, Xabi Alonso, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaká and Benzema - and a new orchestra director, experienced Manuel Pellegrini, who can expect them to play in perfect harmony, have a recognisable style of play and also obtain outstanding results at the same time?

There will inevitably be several surprises on the way, but in my opinion the investment made this season will see its fruits with a slightly delayed effect - but surely the media and public pressure won't let this occur without at least another couple of managers on their way and perhaps a reshuffle in the management board of the team - something ridiculous all Real fans are having to get used to....

The Guardian heavily hits the Best Club in the Century

"The first humiliation of Real Madrid's second galactic age arrived in the Copa del Rey last night, when Manuel Pellegrini's side were hammered 4-0 by Alcorcón from Spain's regional Second Division B, Group II.

Even a second-leg turn around at the Bernabéu will not undo the damage done to a club that spent €254m (£229m) in the summer. During his first spell as president Florentino Pérez went through six coaches in three years. Just eight weeks into his debut season, and with the pressure having already built after a series of disappointing displays, Pellegrini will be concerned for his future.

"There's no explanations. We were focused and the training sessions were very good, but Alcorcón played very well," Pellegrini told Marca after the game. "We hope our fans can forgive us after this defeat."

Madrid did not even have the excuse of having put out a starting XI made up of youth-teamers. Although Iker Casillas was replaced in goal by Jerzy Dudek, Cristiano Ronaldo was injured and Kaká and Xabi Alonso were left out, there was a place in the side for the club's other galáctico, the €35m striker Karim Benzema.

He was joined by the captain Raúl, plus Raúl Albiol, Guti and Rafael van der Vaart. Not one youth team player was included as Madrid travelled to the Municipal de Santo Domingo stadium just south of the capital, where temporary seating had raised the capacity from 3,000 to 4,000.

"It is our goal to win every competition." Pellegrini had insisted before the match. That will take a huge second-leg victory now. Alcorcón had fired three warnings in the opening three minutes alone and were 3-0 up before half-time, thanks to goals from Borja Pérez and Ernesto Gómez and an own goal from former Liverpool full-back Alvaro Arbeloa.

It was 4-0 eight minutes into the second half and Madrid were grateful the scoreline was not even more embarrassing: the home side hit the post and wasted a series of chances, while Dudek was Madrid's outstanding performer.

"Our opponents...we've seen it 3,200 times before," Pelligrini said. "A team who were tremendously motivated and were able to play at their best. I saw them in recent games, we had reports, but they played very well.

"We need to react. We are going to find difficult opponents all over the place. We need to play well everywhere. I am not thinking about my job or about resigning, only the next match.""

The Captain: Always the most important

Part I

Year after year Real Madrid's presidents spend millions and millions of Euros to signing the newest, fastest, youngest, most talented, and popular players. And yet, year after year, there is one common thing observed throughout the season.

The captain, the record breaking long living captain, Raúl. It is his 15th season in the Club's first team and has during those 15 years achieved Excellence and seniority, and has always set an example with his professionality.

Year after year he has faced severe criticism, he has been dropped from the national team, and challenged by the likes of Benzema, Van Nistelrooy, Ronaldo Nazario, Michael Owen, Higuaín, Álvaro Negredo, Javier Saviola, and the list could go on and on...

However, every year the captain has been posting great numbers, with last year at age 31 coming up as the second most scoring player in the team with 18 goals just in "La liga" and many of them vital, game winning strikes.