27 January 2013

Rwanda: Real Madrid Falling Apart


Despite holding onto top spot in 'Deloitte's list of richest clubs in the world', all is not well at Real Madrid. Last week, it was revealed that the club had earned revenue of €512.6m last season. It was the first time a sporting club had earned in excess of €500m in a season.

Recently, Jose Mourinho's crumbling season at Real Madrid took another turn for the worse when two of his star players Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos turned against him. The pair gave Real president Florentino Perez an ultimatum over the manager's future. According to the pair, either Mourinho leaves or they depart - they want to see the back of the Portuguese at the end of the season and have told the club management that they are ready to leave should Mourinho be retained.

Ahead of their league match over the weekend, Real were trailing Barcelona by 15 points while it should not be forgotten that an intriguing test awaits them in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League were they are scheduled to play Manchester United.

By coincidence, goalkeeper Casillas could end up at Old Trafford should he be forced out of the club where he has been No 1 since the age of 19. United are scouring the market for a new stopper having grown frustrated with the poor form of David de Gea since his £17.8 million move from Atletico Madrid.

Casillas' record speaks for itself. He is the number one choice for the World Cup and European Championship holders (Spain); he has been voted into the FIFA/FIFPro World XI for the fifth consecutive season and he's generally regarded as one of the finest goalies in the game.

That said, Mourinho had his own agenda when he surprisingly left him out of the starting line-up for last month's La Liga match against Malaga. Instead, the Special One opted for Antonio Adan.

But the move backfired as Adan went on to concede three goals in what was Madrid's fourth loss of the season. Casillas was dropped once again after the winter break for the visit of Real Sociedad, and he only found his way back onto the field when Adan was sent off.

The decision reeked of a power play: there was no tactical reason to drop the hugely popular Casillas. It was simply Mourinho's way of showing everyone who was in control.

By no coincidence, Perez had hailed Casillas as a 'legendary captain of Real Madrid' and would not have appreciated the undermining gesture. Judging by the fans' jeers and whistles at the manager at the Bernabeu, the Madridistas did not like it either. In fact fans have now turned against the Portuguese with a very big percentage believing that he has damaged the club's image.

Everything that happens at Madrid is magnified; the pressure is intense. It is a political club managed by a political coach and reported on by a political media. Mistrust is inevitable, normality far from easy. People see agendas, some genuine, some imagined. It conditions the atmosphere but the flashpoints and tension have been real. Relations are strained between coach and captain. It's a fact that the Spanish dressing room is harder to manage than an English one. Players who have won the World Cup playing a different way under a different manager and alongside players from the other side of the club divide are not so easily coaxed.

That said, it looks as though the Special One and Madrid will be parting company at the end of the season.

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