Just over two years ago, Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez shifted uncomfortably in his seat at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu as most of the 80,000 Blancos supporters around him chanted for his resignation after Real Madrid finished 4th in La Liga, 15 points behind fierce rivals Barcelona.
Fast forward to the present day, the last of his presidency, and you would hear very few complaints about Pérez’s leadership of the club. His appointment of Fernando Redondo and the implementation of a three year plan has transformed the club’s fortunes and with a return to glory for the Madrid side there was no better time for Pérez to announce that he would not be running for re-election.
The first Florentino era had brought us the lavish signings of Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham and Ronaldo & a Champions League win in 2002. Florentino’s background was in business and politics, and he applied what he had learned there. He also remembered how Santiago Bernabeu had put together his Madrid teams in the 1950’s. The key then was to sign a great player, and leave the rest aside.
His second term started as the first had finished, faithful to the galacticos idea. He splurged on superstars like Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo & Gareth Bale which led the club to the long awaited ‘Decima’ but despite popular opinion Pérez had changed his philosophy, learning from his mistakes and taking council from Jose Angel Sanchez. There was still a need for a marquee signing, however they have also focused on younger players who have emerged as key first team players, players like Raphael Varane, Marcos Asensio & Casemiro and mixed them with intelligent bargains like Toni Kroos & Luka Modric.
Rewind to the appointment of Redondo and that 3 year plan, Perez’s last roll of the dice in an attempt to catch and pass the dominant Barcelona;
Season 1 –
- Reduce playing staff – squad to have no more than 2 players per position (not including youth team players).
- Sell fringe players to make space on the wage budget to allow the financial standing of the club to grow (See Episode 2)
- Sign 1 Galáctico – improves the playing squad & shows our commitment to our supporters. (See Episode 3)
- Scouting network to identify high potential youth prospects to filter into the playing squad or be sold at a profit from Season 3.
Real Madrid will have mixed feelings about their 2019/20 campaign, but there is no doubt that the finish was as dramatic as you could hope for and performances in the first year underlined the positive signs from Fernando Redondo’s management. The season started well with victory in the Spanish Super Cup against Barcelona which set the season up nicely. Madrid finished the season with 20 points more than the previous season but were matched point-for-point by rivals Barcelona and despite Barcelona drawing the final game of the season, Real Madrid lost out to the La Liga title on the head-to-head record.
Season 2 –
- Sign 1 Galáctico
- Improve playing squad by position – only signing players once deals have been done for existing players.
- Scouting network to identify high potential youth prospects to filter into the playing squad or be sold at a profit from Season 4.
- Challenge for La Liga & Champions League
The Real Madrid fans had reason to celebrate before a ball had been kicked in the 2020/21 season. The signings of Mauro Icardi & David De Gea showed the club’s ambition and with some big names leaving the club there was a real sense of change. The season started well with Madrid not losing a game until October when they lost to Monaco at home in the Champions League and it would be January before they would lose again, against Madrid rivals Atletico, in the Copa del Rey. The unbeaten run in the league would last the whole season with Real Madrid crowned champions, 17 points ahead of Barcelona. Unfortunately for Pérez he couldn’t go out on a complete high after Madrid were knocked out of the Champions League at the semi final stage against Arsenal on away goals but the season was bitter sweat as they finished the season lifting the Copa del Rey trophy after defeating Valencia 1-0.
So has Pérez made the right decision to stand down as President? Well the timing is certainly right, Barcelona will come back stronger, the signings of Pogba, Kluivert & De Ligt prove that, and maybe it is time for a new direction and with Emilio Butragueño the favourite to replace him it is looking like a perfect time to sign off his legacy.