Time for a guest post. Today's author is Elliott, head honcho at the excellent Futfanatico, with his thoughts on that great big footballer magnet in the centre of Spain.
Kaka. Cristiano Ronaldo. Benzema. Raul Albiol. The sums have been gi-normous. The names make the mouth water. Well, maybe not Albiol. Still, the mood at the Bernabeu for Kaka’s unveiling spoke wonders about the general feeling in Madrid – the joys and exuberance of childhood. But across the country, and the channel, a different mood reigned.
Just last summer, Sir Alex bullishly refused to sell his Portuguese plaything. So what happened? Bear Stearns collapsed. American owners at both United and Liverpool have struggled to re-finance their debts, or find interested sheiks, and Setanta went belly-up. In a tumultuous market, business considerations overcame sporting interests.
The reaction among United fans has been positive – few will miss the sullen and moody Ronaldo. His accomplishments have immediately been forgotten – 40 plus goals? That was so last year. Yet, despite making a handsome profit on the Portuguese investment, resentment lingers. Anger flashes in the eyes and words of columnists. Why?
United, the reigning champion of England, is not a selling club. The Red Devils poach talent from all over the world – they are not a two-bit pawnshop five miles from a military base. Calderon played a weak-bluff last summer, tossing a line and hoping Ronaldo would bite. He did not. Perez, on the other hand, cashed in all his chips, the keys to his car, and his rolex. He went all-in beyond United’s comprehension. And the Red Devils folded.
Florentino Perez knows the value of money to others but has little regard for it himself. He loves zeroes and signing checks, two troubling habits in times of depression. Still, the concerns about “Madrid accumulating debt” are disingenuous. These are the folded arms and grunts of the doctors at their child’s school auction – winning the prize until the banker showed up.
But how should you, the neutral, react? Should you wish a plague on the house of Perez? Too late. The last edition of the Galacticos played pitiful football – only the individual brilliance of Zidane and, later, Ronaldo brought home any trophies. And do not expect trophies to rain down from the heavens - egos will derail any sustained success.
I, as a Madrid fan, am self-medicating on Wimbledon to repress the cognitive dissonance. Last season, the current roster came within 6 points of Barcelona until a late slide. But now Perez has mortgaged the future for immediate returns. And if a phantom goal derails a return leg, then the heads will fly. Not the players of course, but I hope Pellegrini kept his return ticket open. And of course not Perez.