Unfortunately for Real Madrid the soap opera styled leadership of Florentino Perez looks set to continue to plague the Santiago Bernabeu for the foreseeable, after yesterday their club president confirmed yet another galling plot twist to the footballing world; with the inevitable ‘killing off’ of their much-maligned ‘son’ Rafael Benitez.
Whilst Perez briefed the media with a short statement confirming Benitez’s departure, the script was duly written for footballing demigod, Zinedine Zidane to take centre stage and control of Real Madrid’s ambitions on the field – having supposedly earnt his stripes with Real’s B team.
Zizou is now the 11th coach to be appointed in Perez’s 12 years as club resident which simply highlights the intolerance and recklessness of the 68-year-olds two separate spells in charge.
So whilst hiring and firing continues to be the norm under such stewardship, so does the clubs infuriating neglect of their youth system.
With home-grown continuity often overlooked for big money play-things annually every summer, Real Madrid’s flawed youth policy has seen the likes of Juan Mata, Alvaro Morata, Jose Callejon, Juanfran, Alvaro Negredo, Roberto Soldado and Dani Parejo leave within the last decade.
Laughably over the years Los Blancos have often backtracked on their initial dismissals of some of their own, by swiftly forking out the cash to hastily bring some of them back. Their current squad epitomises as much with Dani Carvajal, Alvaro Arbeloa and more recently the likes of Lucas Vazquez, Kiko Casilla and Casemiro all welcomed into the fold after spells away.
The latest victim of Real’s desertion is set to be Jese Rodriguez, who at 22 has seen his Real Madrid career stall initially thanks to a cruciate ligament injury, but now more so down to the lack of opportunities being afforded to him.
Jese is arguably the most talented Real Madrid youth player to emerge in over a decade and yet it seems very few recall the levels of quality the wide-man was producing prior to his previously mentioned knee injury in March 2014; tallying five goals and four assists in just 18 games, with the majority coming from the substitute’s bench.
Such form even led to the scorning of Gareth Bale, who in the summer of 2013 was bought for a world record transfer fee – another indicator of Real’s business plan of buying big and expecting an abundance of the trophies in return.
Such forecasting however hasn’t quite worked out. Whilst Perez can point towards Real’s famed La Decima following their Champions League success back in 2014, just one La Liga title has been paraded around the Bernabeu in the last seven seasons.
Loathed rivals Barcelona have been the team to puncture such ambitions winning five of the last seven La Liga titles, with much of the adulation in doing so landing at the feet of La Masia’s most famous graduates in Lionel Messi, Gerrard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
The philosophy which Barcelona is engulfed in brings clarity, with the club aligned from top to bottom thanks to a clear and highly recognisable identity. The club not only expect the first team to be playing a certain way, the club produces talent to replicate such style throughout their academy system.
Such methods mean once the progression into Barca’s first team is eventually achieved, players are already deeply affiliated to a certain way of playing and certainly bond with the club in such a way they each become patrons for the Barcelona way.
Instead of learning from such a thing this continues to be completely lost in the Real Madrid set-up, with uncertainty and anxiety more often than not the lasting impression on the majority of their youngsters.
Perez has actually reduced Real’s Cantera; with Castilla and Real’s C team recently being combined into one entity – further reducing exposure to competitive football for the next generation of Madristas.
If such mistreatment is allowed to continue the future ultimately looks bleak for droves of Cantera prospects, none more so than the highly regarded Borja Mayoral along with the recently purchased wonderkid Martin Odegaard.
Not only is wasted talent desperately saddening, the impact of such will only continue to dissolve the link between the first team squad and the clubs fan base – with no local heroes around who are fully submerged in the clubs history.
This can also impact the balance of the first team squad, with big-name players sometimes lacking the necessary determination and will to succeed for certain causes and managers they take a dislike to. A simple theory merely underlined by the recent departure of Benitez.
Whilst Benitez’s reign always looked destined to fail, the amount of high profile players who effectively downed tools on the manager was nothing short of despicable and should be viewed as an act of treason.
Such acts are less likely with a squad containing locals and those brought up through the academy – who should be looked upon to form some sort of continuity within the club in the long-term. Continuity however is a word seldom heard through the Bernabeu, something which desperately needs to be addressed.