Tuesday, 5 January 2016

OSM - The Florentino Way

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End of season is Florentino’s favourite time of year. It gives the Real Madrid President a chance to flourish on rumours of big name signings, match making possible managers and enchants club fans with his marketing plans for the ensuing season. With La Liga just finished 2015 things are proving no different. Albeit the rumours have been swirling for over three weeks on the possible new look for next season. The stories including the departure of a number of players. Possibly along with manager Carlo Ancelotti as result of a season where the club failed in the Copa del Rey; La Liga and the Champions League. With the name of Barcelona present in all those three finals.

All just twelve months after Ancelotti delivered the much sought after “Decima” in Lisbon last May to Perez – thus fulfilling his promise to fans of securing that elusive tenth European Cup to the Bernabeu. However this season the fans have been left with an empty trophy cabinet and the manager may pay the heaviest price for that shortcoming. The speculation now rife that former Castilla Manager – Ream Madrid's second side – is to be offered the job. Despite Perez prizing the Italian from Paris Saint German in 2013 after years of trying to get his attention.

2013 also brought Karim Benzema and Mezut Ozil, which was then followed up in 2014 with the most expensive player in the world, Gareth Bale. Not to mention Tony Kroos, James Rodriguez and Aiser Illaramendi. All characteristic of a Perez Presidency, both in his first term when he recruited Luis Figo from Barcelona and Zinedine Zidane from Juventus. A feat repeated on his unopposed re-election in 2009 which saw Jose Mourinho come to the Santiago Bernabeu in 2010 after winning a treble with Inter Milan.

The results achieved a pale shadow during those seven years of the big spending with just a single La Liga title and a Champions League.

Managerial changes are Perez speciality and he is well remembered for firing Vicente del Bosque soon after the former Madrid midfielder – who the clubs’ 9th European Cup in Hampden Park – only to be replaced by the unimpressive Carlos Quieroz. Who himself only lasted a season.

In fact as one of the longer serving Presidents Perez can hardly even match Ramon Mendoza who during his four term accumulated five consecutive La Liga titles. A feat that Perez is finding hard to emulate and falling short of Barcelona during the same period. With 2015 proving no different and forcing Perez to start imagining a new setup for next season. 

Within the club it appears things are changing too with Assistant Manager Paul Clement suggested as the possible replacement for an under pressure Steve McClaren at Derby County. With suggestions also that despite the denials, Gareth Bale may also return to the UK and join either Chelsea or Manchester United. With former Liverpool manager Benitez in line for the number one job at Real as he is also now available. After a disappointing end to his season at Napoli losing out on a Europa League final place last week. All proving an ignominious end for Ancelotti at Real Madrid and his work for Perez during the past few seasons.

Managerial changes though are Perez’ speciality and he is well remembered for firing Vicente Del Bosque soon after the former Madrid midfielder – who the clubs’ 9th European Cup in Hampden Park – only to be replaced by the unimpressive Carlos Quieroz. Who himself only lasted a season.

There is even further confusion as David DeGea is on his way to Madrid from Old Trafford in a deal that is almost agreed – according to reports. But where exactly DeGea will fit in amidst Iker Casillas and Keylor Navas is anyone’s guess. Particularly as Casillas shows no signs or willingness to move on despite a very indifferent this season. Not unlike Fernando Hierro or Raul Gonzalez during their last years at the club. As all were eventually pushed, Raul by Mourinho, Hierro by the club the same year Del Bosque was sacked 

However for a tough businessman Perez seems to take the easy option at time and these days has returned Hierro, Emilio Butragueno to the club’s management. He is also hoping that the schooling of Zidane as a future managers at the lower levels within the club will someday make him management material for the A team. The possible early departure of Ancelotti a hindrance to a seamless transition and require that Perez go outside the club on this occasion to allow "ZiZou" get further experience. For that reason Benitez would be a stop gap for a year or two, with an impressive track record at Chelsea and Napoli to bolster his CV. Not to mention Istanbul in 2006 where Liverpool overcame AC Milan’s galaxy of stars in that final in front of Ancelotti’s very eyes. 

It would be a cruel irony for Carlo if Rafa was to replace him ten years after that epic Champions League final.

But Perez does offload with frequency and during the past two years the once indispensable Di Maria was sold to Manchester United; Xabi Alonso opting to leave for Bayern on the arrival of Kroos and Rodriguez. With Sami Khedira the victim of some tough contract negotiations and has seen very little action over the past two seasons. Despite being a world cup medial winner with Germany last summer. With fellow German Ozil suffering a similar transition and ending up at Arsenal after only two years in Madrid. Press reports now suggest that Illaramendi may be another Premier League target with Liverpool showing interest. 

Indeed the links with the Premier League going further as former Real Madrid number two. Aitor Karranka, leads Middlesbrough in the play-off final against Norwich City at Wembley.

However amidst all the rumour and speculation the only certainty is Sami Khedira is leaving. The German midfielder announcing his departure this from Real Madrid as a free agent. The chances are he too will end up in the Premier League next season.

As for Ancelotti, he has announced that if indeed the inevitable does happen he will take a year off from the game. Understandable really having been feted just twelve months ago as a hero. But that’s Florentino Perez.

There is little focus on home grown talent, there never seems to be a long term plan, all managers barley lasting the full term of their contracts. With results dictating everything. For that reason the trophies and titles at Madrid are in short supply despite all the millions spent on players. The new season promises more of the same on and off the bench. But there is no guarantee that there will be any greater success on the field. Only more replica shirts sold off the field of play.

But then that is the Florentino Way.

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