It is not unusual for Real Madrid football club to break records as the clubs history is full of either legendary football achievements or the achievements of footballing legends
The legacy of those five consecutive European Cup wins in the late 1950’s set the club on a path of dominance in Spain that has only recently been matched by their arch rivals, Futbol Club Barcelona on the European stage. So the signing of Kaka this summer was just another one of those historical landmarks that once again puts the club on a path of expectation following the return of former Club President, Florentino Perez, who fondly named the squad he gathered after his 2000 presidential victory, as “The Galacticos”.
His last term ended in 2006 and during those six years he brought Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo, David Beckham, Michael Owen, Julio Baptista and Robinho to the Santiago Bernabeu. All the signings were attack minded players which meant that the team was not strong defensively, which towards the end of his regime took its toll on the team’s results and on his Presidency. Particularly when he stubbornly transferred Claude Makelele to Chelsea over improved salary demands, leaving defensive frailties in the “Galacticos” more visible than before.
For Perez though it was all about attacking flair and scoring goals was the team’s main purpose.
In this new era the financial imprudence of his last stay in office looks to be outdone as he has set aside €300M for some new box office names. Having already broken the box office for Brazilian Kaka he also added the capture of Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United for €96M. Currently the club remains in the chase for Valencia’s’ David Villa and Franck Ribery of Bayern Munich. With a new manager also just in place recently hired from Villa Real, Manuel Pellegrini, Real Madrid now need to deliver another Champions League at least.
Seeing their Catalan rivals win the treble – the Copa Del Rey, La Liga and the Champions League – with Josep "Pep" Guardiola in his first season in charge undoubtedly was an incentive for the “Casa Blanca” club to start achieving more. To do so the new stars needed to come to help secure silverware domestically and failure will mean they will follow in the shadow of the Dutch Colony that was in situ in Madrid, that included Robben, Van de Vaart, Van Nistelrooy, Sneijder, Drenthe and Huntelaar, none of whom really performed to their best last season. In fact they all peaked at EURO 2008 history would suggest.
On the managerial side the current Spanish manager is a distant memory for Perez, as he dispensed with the services of Vicente del Bosque back in 2003. There followed then a period in which eight managers passed through the club in six years, the latest signing being Pellegrini. Amongst those names who did not survive are included Fabio Cappello, Carlos Queiroz, Jose Antonio Camacho, Juande Ramos, Bernd Schuster and Wanderly Luxemburgo.
The quick succession of managers clearly reflecting the pressure on delivering La Liga titles and Champions League trophies. Ironically it was Del Bosque who brought 2 Champions League wins in 2001 and 2003, along with 2 la Liga titles 2000 and 2002. Even when Fabio Capello won La Liga in 2007 and Schuster in 2008, it was not enough to keep them in a job,
Like many former playing who have come back to manage the club, names such as Amancio, Di Stefano, Molowny and Schuster, Del Bosque was no different and in the end a fall out with President Perez ended his tenure – followed closely by Fernando Hierro, Steve McManaman and Fernando Morientes. Now a decade later Florentino Perez returns once again to rebuild the Real Madrid project to his liking.
In place as Sporting Director once more is former Real Madrid striker and 1986 Argentinean World Cup Champion Jorge Valdano, who implemented the blueprint for the Galacticos the last time Perez was at the helm. The plan is for him to do so again in this second coming along with the help of Zidane, who has been appointed as a special Adviser to the Perez, so it is hoped that the Days of Camelot return again to Real Madrid.
The voices of criticism though have not been slow in coming forward either and unsurprisingly the loudest of them reaching from the Catalan Capital, Barcelona, with some club directors for Barcelona “baffled” as to where Real Madrid are getting all the money from, all the more inappropriate they say in these times of economic recession and high unemployment in Spain
Magda Oranich, Director of the Institutional Area for Barcelona spoke to Catalunya Radio recently and was very critical and adopting concern for the national economic interest it would appear.
“I hope the new signings are a failure.” Oranich said ”The truth is that we don’t where they are getting so much cash, but what Florentino Perez is doing is clearly interfering with the market and that will adversely affect all of us.”
On the national level the Governor of the Bank of Spain only last week told the Spanish government there was no room for deficit spending beyond the plans already announced to try to revive the economy. In one of the sternest policy warnings since the start of the economic crisis, Miguel Angel Fernández Ordóñez, said Spain's budget deficit could reach 10 per cent of gross domestic product next year, while government debt could exceed 60 per cent of GDP, up from less than 40 per cent at the end of 2008. Spain also now has more than 4m unemployed which is a rate of 17.4%.
Not unlike the national economy, Real Madrid has significant debt, estimated to be about €500m and the club must raise money by offloading their Dutch players this summer. But the Real Madrid President sees the opportunity differently and has been clear in his insistence that players such as Ronaldo and Kaka are not expensive because of the income that they generate; "normal" players who only perform on the pitch are a different matter.
"There are players who generate a lot of money and others who are only protagonists in a sporting sense," Sporting Director Jorge Valdano said. "Ronaldo could turn out to be cheap while others are extremely expensive."
For the moment though the samba drums will beat louder and drown out the critics with the return of the Florentino Perez Galacticos set play to full houses for many months ahead.