The season hasn’t even begun and the opinion pages of the Madrid press are starting to reflect a growing anxiety amongst Real Madrid supporters that life under Capello could turn out to be pretty uninspiring.
Three years feels like a very long time for the fans of Real Madrid to go without seeing their team win a trophy, accustomed as they are to success. This coming season is all about results for the team ‘of the 20th Century’ and Capello has been brought in to accumulate points and dislodge Barcelona from the top of the table. His pragmatic approach to the game will ensure that cohesion and a sharp competitive edge are returned to the club.
However, the fans of Real Madrid more than expect to see their team dominate European football; they demand it be done with a swagger. It is easy to accuse them of a degree of arrogance but it should be remembered that these are also the fans who rose from their seats to applaud a Ronaldinho inspired Barcelona give a demonstration of the beautiful game last season – or Jogo Bonito as the marketing men would have it these days.
Real Madrid are the Rolls Royce of World football and for a brief while during the Galactico era that Rolls Royce dazzled and purred in a manner that befits a club with the ‘Royal’ title. However, without the necessary maintenance the Rolls gradually fell into a state of complacent disrepair and finally coughed and spluttered its way into the garage at the end of last season.
Fabio Capello is hard at work beating the old girl back into shape but what may finally emerge from the garage on the first day of the new season may not be the Rolls Royce but the footballing equivalent of a Volvo. Reliable and effective but not the stuff of fantasy.
The opinion writers of AS are crying out for a creative player, a playmaker who can deliver the final ball and, more importantly, get the fans out of their seats and ‘on their feet’. The fans want to see Kaka but Capello’s priority is Diarra, another defensively minded midfield player that suits Capello’s defensive core.
Thanks to Chelsea’s liberal distribution of the roubles Lyon are demanding 38 million euros for Diarra, the same fee that they were able to command from Chelsea for Essien last season. It is unlikely that Real will pay that kind of sum but if they were to go anywhere near that figure it will not go down well supporters who might imagine that Kaka were available for a few euros more.
One of the few players at Real capable of fulfilling the role of playmaker is the frustratingly erratic Guti, a player unlikely to find himself in favour with Capello and already strongly linked with a move to Atletico. In fact, if Calderon’s latest comments are to be taken at face value, then a move for a playmaker is not even on the agenda for Capello.
Calderon is demonstrating a remarkable ability to dig himself into an ever deeper hole with almost every statement that he makes. He said “I would have loved to have signed Kaka, Robben and Fabregas but only on the condition that Capello and Mijatovic decided that they wanted them. Right now these players are not a priority. I’m not going to get involved in these matters.”
Calderon promised the voters that he would sign these players during the campaign and repeatedly after being elected. He made these pledges from a platform alongside Capello and Mijatovic. Did the three of them never discuss transfer targets? Did Capello stand idly by whilst the President promised the fans one thing when he clearly had plans for another?
Calderon promised the fans that he would let Capello and Mijatovic run the team without interference. That is exactly how it should be. However, following the embarrassing Jurado affair and his repeated public contradictions, Calderon should also let his management team do the talking.