Monday, April 19, 2010

2010-04-18: Real Madrid 2 - Valencia 0

I'd also like to add the main Real Madrid excerpt in Phil Ball's latest article in ESPN Soccernet:
It's absolutely wodnerfully enlightening stuff...! Read on below:

"... Then again, the tabloid 'Marca' has been insisting since the 'clasico' that Pellegrini will not be at Real Madrid next season, and took this week to simply stating this as a fact, printing the list of possible managers who are lining up to come to the Bernabéu. Interesting this, since Jorge Valdano, presumably the man in charge of such matters, has not said a word on the issue.
This means that the actual Director of Football at Real Madrid is a chap called Eduardo Inda, and he answers to the job description of Marca's Director. Inda likes to give the nation his two penn'orth, and fantasises nightly of what it must be like to really pull the strings at the Bernabeu. Inda doesn't like Pellegrini, and hasn't liked him since last June, and one suspects that Pellegrini isn't too keen on Inda either - but he's far too nice too say so. Inda wants Mourinho, and thinks that he fits the profile of Real Madrid because he's a 'winner' - which is true. What Inda doesn't realise is that Mourinho will have taken note of what John Toshack once said about managing Real Madrid, basically that 'It isn't the results in the end, ask Jupp Heynckes. It's how you get on with the Madrid press.' Toshack didn't take any crap from them, and neither would Mourinho - but that doesn't mean he's the man for the job. And his dog is happy in Milan.
Actually, I agree with Inda. Mourinho would be fantastic for Madrid, but Pellegrini ain't going anywhere, as far as I understand it. Inda also says that Michel isn't ready yet, and that Benitez's idea of football doesn't quite fit the profile. Must be true then. Inda has also said (there's no escaping this guy) that the season has been 'un fracaso total' for Real Madrid (a total failure).
Well I'm not so sure about that. I watched the clásico in a hotel in Cairo (I was on holiday with my family), and at the end of Al Jazeera's excellent coverage I was left with the distinct feeling that everything has to be considered in relation to Barcelona. Madrid played ok in the first half, pressurised Barcelona where they needed to, but it wasn't enough. Barca were just too good, too efficient, without ever being spectacular. In a more muted way, it was as potentially damaging as last season's 6-2 defeat at home, but this Real Madrid strike me as being made of sterner stuff, despite the flaws that still exist. They've bounced back, and are once again within a point of their rivals, after the latter slipped up and drew at Espanyol. And even if Barcelona take the Champions League trophy at the Bernabeu, and even if they win the league too, Madrid's season is only a 'total failure' in relation to the expectations that you harboured at the beginning.
What did Eduardo Inda think was going to happen? That a practically new side would mould itself into a winning unit immediately, and sweep all before it? If they had, it would have been a dark day for football, an endorsement of the power of spending over the power of longer-term planning. Madrid have played some good stuff this season, have entertained and have stayed with Barcelona all the way - which is a virtue in itself. It's not Pellegrini's fault that he's come into the job at the precise moment when the Catalans have one of their greatest sides ever. Madrid have entertained, which is more than can be said of them last season. The failure resides in their institutional make-up. The players and manager make their beds and sign their contracts, but should then be granted the minimal right to objective analysis. But that has never been the strong point of 'Marca', and less so now with its power-mad head honcho.
Where they have failed on the pitch has been at the crucial moments - the two clásicos, and the games against Lyon. But they're human. Pellegrini's main fault has been a lack of charisma, and a lack of boldness perhaps - but his hands have been tied. 'Marca' accused him last week of seven deadly sins, one of them being his lack of interest in the cantera (the youth system) - criticising him for not giving opportunities to the younger players. But how can he? Even in pre-season, Florentino Perez let it be known that he was less than happy because Kaka had been left on the bench for the first half. Obliged to field the galacticos because, like Everest, they're there, and then keep your Gutis, Graneros, Rauls and Van der Vaarts happy - what was he supposed to do with the cantera? And of course, it wasn't Pellegrini who transferred Wesley Sneijder. It was Valdano, desperate to balance the books because Perez was breathing down his neck. To keep Gago, Diarra and Van der Vaart and to transfer Sneijder makes little sense. Mourinho couldn't believe his luck.
Lots of things have gone right. Ronaldo has been, in the main, magnificent, and Xabi Alonso has proved beyond doubt that he is the best in the world in his position. Kaka has been disappointing, but again, he wasn't Pellegrini's signing. He might still come good, as might Benzema, as long as he doesn't go to Man Utd. A lack of a wide player has been a manifest weakeness, but they have signed Canales and may well get Ribery. The latter player would make a lot of difference, as will David Silva if Valencia finally let him go. Pellegrini has also had the courage to finally bench Raul, and if Valdano asks him in June who he would like to see leave the club, he wouldn't go far wrong if he simply replied 'Raul and Guti'. It's true that Guti has still come up with some fantastic stuff, but surely, like Raul, his brooding presence in the club is a constant challenge to the manager's authority. Pellegrini is not the first one to have suffered this. It's time to sweep them out, and to remove their oppressive presence from the club, great servants though they have been. You can't have a new project with those two hanging around. Send them to Qatar. They'll be happy there. "
More thoughts (my own) in the coming days...


  1. Interesting read.

    I disagree with Xabi Alonso proving he's the best in that position. He's played a couple of good games here and there, but that bold assertion makes me laugh. And if Benzema leaves this season (which I doubt and pray won't happen), that will be a total failure.

    I agree with the Inda/Marca hate. The press is despicable, but it only takes a man strong enough to not fall in their traps and succumb to their desires. Are Florentino and Pellegrini those strong men? I have my doubts.

    What I would like to know it what the fuck is up with Pellegrini and Benzema. If he's not in the starting XII next week, if he keeps on giving him the last 5 minutes for public humiliation, then Pellegrini must go with a boot in his sad ass.

  2. Eduardo Inda is a slimy asshole. The actions of He and his ilk have been absolutely reprehensible.

    As for Xabi Alonso: I wouldn't go as far as saying he's the best in his position but let me restate my observation: Every time we've lost this season is marked by either his absence or a poor game from him. I also blame Liverpool's atrocious season on his absence.

    I'm totally miffed by what Pellegrini has been doing with Benzema too. If the guy is fit: give him half an hour to play. If we're up by 2 goals by half time, give him 45 mins. If we get a 3 goal lead: Re-experiment with the 4-2-2-2 again: 2 midfielders, 2 attacking midfielders/wingers (Ronaldo + VDV/Guti/Kaka) and Pipita and Benzema upfront: the 2 had a promising partnership developing early this season... what's more is that Ronaldo's wing play against Valencia and even Almeria was great.

    I still like Pellegrini though and would like to see him finish his contract (which ends next season I think). If he goes 2 full seasons with no silverware but with this squad... then it's fair to say he failed and wasn't good enough. After one season however... I find that it's way too early.