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Dollars & Sense

Dollars & Sense

03/06/15 03 June 2015

The sacking of Ancelotti has the football world stunned. Well, I suppose "stunned" isn’t the right word. We all know it was a poor and utterly bizarre decision by Florentino Perez but not one we’re surprised he made.

Not too dissimilar to the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo and Ancelotti (again) by Roman Abramovich. But again, Abramovich and Perez are essentially the same person; two billionaires who have made their fortunes in enterprises separate to football, involved in energy and construction as well as being politicians. Their participation in the sport is nothing more than a pastime for each. Both understand very little about football and it is characterized by their actions and behaviours.
The choice to appoint Rafa Benitez as Ancelotti’s successor is most concerning - sacking a man who has won the Champions League twice as a player and 3 times as manager to hire a guy who can’t get Napoli to even qualify for it? Really…

What’s the objective put forward by these two chairmen to their new managers? Evidence would suggest it is to win Europe’s top prize every year or else you’re fired. That must clearly be the case. Last year Ancelotti delivered what his employer had been craving for over a decade in winning la Decima (I hate using, saying and hearing that turn of phrase). On top of that; it’s not even as if Real Madrid had a poor campaign this past season, is it? They finished this league on 92 points (2 points behind Barcelona yet still a total that would have seen them top Premier League, Serie A and the Bundesliga), as well as semi-finalists in the Champions League.

I’m sure any sane person on this earth would realise that there is no shame in being second best to this Barcelona side whom many are calling the “best team of all-time” – Marcello Lippi being the highest profile individual to be quoted stating those exact words.

That was obviously no consolation for Perez whose with desire to best their Catalan rivals is bordering on obsessive and is clearly damaging the club’s progression and furthering the gap between the two.

It seems that Perez’s only real philosophy is to throw excessive amounts of money at an issue until it no longer is one. Proof of this is that Juventus beat his side over two legs – their entire midfield was signed for a collective €10.5m. Compare that to the €32m spent on Illarramendi, a midfielder who is about as effective as Sergio Ramos in the same role.

The above only highlights the fact that Perez has no concept of how football works and is completely unaware that success of a team operates in cycles, and history is filled with examples that support this. A dynasty is built on a similar group and a slow revolution of playing staff - only when it is clear that the manager in charge has no clear direction should a change be made. Does anyone believe Manchester United would be the empire it is today if they sacked Alex Ferguson every season he failed to win the Premier League? But instead year on year their board had the foresight to see what was unfolding and now he is in history books is one of history’s greatest managers because he was offered the time. That is what it takes to build an era of success - not axing someone for not winning every trophy, every year.

Under his second reign as president (past 6 seasons), Real Madrid has won one league title, two Spanish Cups, and a Champions League (which they were seconds from defeat until Sergio Ramos rose highest to head home a corner). Aside from dwarfing in comparison to the results of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester United, it’s a poor return when you factor in unlimited finances they have at their disposal (and it’s not as if they’re shy from using it).

I’m sure that clubs such as Chelsea, Manchester City, Real Madrid, PSG (and the like if you can see the correlation amongst the names mentioned), with dumb luck combined with enough money spent will see them lift a trophy or two, but they will not be successful long term in the modern football world as their owners are completely oblivious of what it takes. These clubs will never be able to run in a sustainable manner, without the aid of their sugar daddies - Real Madrid possibly the only exception to the list, if only for their legions of glory hunting fan-boys who don’t mind seeing a club change their badge to accommodate for additional funding from the National Bank of Abu Dhabi - For those who don’t see the that as an issue, it is. It’s not a religious matter, it’s an identity one. The crown that sits atop is taken from the crest of the Spanish royal family, hence the name Real Madrid. Since the change it only makes sense to go by Madrid Football Club.

Now back to the matter at hand; Ancelotti was the perfect man to lead for Real Madrid. Beyond his experience, intelligence and success as a manager, it's his characteristics as a person that made him a perfect fit. If you have ever taken notice of the manner in which he conducts himself on the touchline or even flipped through his autobiography, you would realise that he is a respectable, yet calm and relaxed individual who is capable of handling even the most temperamental personalities that would inhabit the dressing rooms in Madrid. It comes as no surprise that before and after his departure players had come to voice their support of him.

Rafa Benitez is the polar-opposite. As a manager he is a decent enough tactician though he tends to over-analyze his opposition, but will he hold the hearts and minds of the players at Real Madrid? This is a man who had publicly clashed with players during his time at Chelsea, Inter and Napoli sparking rows with even club captains. It would seem he is too rigid and uncompromising to convince and lead a group of players known as Los Galacticos. Jose Mourinho can testament to that.

In short; Benitez’s reign will last less than one season until he is sacked before another +€100m spent and a new manager is hired as the cycle looks set to repeat itself.