Madrid set the press afire last summer with blockbuster signings. With a few swoops of his mighty pen, Perez sent shock waves through the elite of English football. Debt? Regret? Don’t fret! This summer, the merengues have restarted the notorious coach carousel, pausing for an ever so brief year for Pellegrini to play the role of caretaker.
The first instinct is excitement. Surely Mourinho, the Portuguese genius, can form a winning sculpture out of the blanquillo clay. But I fear for this colossal clash of egos – can Mourinho truly change the Madrid culture? The fact Manuel survived the Alcocorn debacle to season’s end shows signs of improvement, but…but…but…
Sobriety takes over after the initial rush wears off. Your body ceases releasing endorphins and the first rays of dawn tease your weary eyelids. Del Bosque won two Champions Leagues but got sacked. Fabio Capello has twice won La Liga and been fired in the same season. It dawns on you that the days of aristocracy have ended in Madrid. The elite bourgeoisie doesn’t even invite this aging institution to play bridge on Sundays. A glance in the mirror shows an un-tucked tummy tuck and a sagging face lift.
Real Madrid is now in the aging “Paris Hilton” phase of empire.
The Di Stefano daze, Hugol shouts, and Zizou roulettes have exited the stage. With Raul and Guti soon out the door, only Iker remains from the Galacticos era. The dull Dutch counterattack earned Schuster a few trophies but also a pink slip when his lips became unsealed at a press conference. On the eve of a Clasico, he admitted that his depleted Madrid side would not win at the Nou Camp. For this cardinal sin, he was not only excommunicated, he was exorcised.
In a season where Pellegrini imposed an athletic attacking style and obtained a record number of wins and points, only one statistic mattered – how goo was Madrid compared to Barcelona? Not good enough. Not by a long shot. Can Mourinho into this world of moral relativity and forever change the balance? Or will he temporarily tip the scales in Madrid’s favor, winning a few trophies before returning to England for unfinished business?
An optimist would paint the signing of a super coach as the perfect remedy for a team that allegedly “underachieved” (despite a record setting season). A pessimist would point out that Mourinho’s Inter lost at the Nou Camp just as Madrid last November. Also, Jose will want his reinforcements. Although arguing against the replacement of Marcelo, Gago, and other quality but not world class players should cost Perez another small fortune.
Still, a part of me feels dizzy from the coach swap, as if I just got off the carousel and the ground won’t stop spinning. Or perhaps this is the confusion of awaking too early, the darkness of dawn disconcerting but soon dispelled by the first rays of sunlight.
Only three things are certain. Madrid will win. Madrid will win ugly. And those who disliked Madrid but mocked them for their success will now hate them. Jose will paint his million dollar players as victims of a biased press, he will blow smoke at the Catalan castle in the sky.
But how long Perez, or the Madrid media, will put up with Jose is another question. The Italian media, unimpressed by catenaccio lite, grilled him on tactics and refused to laugh at his sophomoric remarks. Will the Spaniards? Should they?