Monday, 30 October 2006

Cassano loses his cool

Antonio CassanoTelling Capello "you have no shame; after everything I did for you at Roma this is how you repay me?" is not going to be one of Antonio Cassano's best career-enhancing moves. He does have form, however, with spats with Capello himself at Roma, as well as with his replacements Rudi Völler and Luigi del Neri.

This time it came after the coach had him warming up on the touchline for the entire second half of Real's pedestrian 3-1 win over Nàstic on Saturday and did not bring him on. Ronaldo, who suffered the same fate and decided to keep quiet, is expected to start against Steaua Bucharest on Wednesday.

Cassano, who scored Real's opener against Ecija in mid-week is not likely to be a part of Capello's future line-ups, especially as the club responded by suspending Cassano 'temporarily' from training with the rest of the squad and fining him according to their disciplinary procedures. While Capello knows his compatriot's temper of old, I expect he will now feature in the upcoming January sales.

Continue reading this article »

Friday, 27 October 2006

Should I stay or should I go...

Back in 2004, British journalist John Carlin, in his book White Angels published a fascinating insider's view on the whole saga of David Beckham leaving Manchester United and signing for Real Madrid. In it he describes how the Spanish club's marketing director, José Angel Sánchez could not believe his lucky stars when Peter Kenyon, Manchester United's chief executive said he would be prepared to accept £25 million for the England captain. Peanuts!, thought Sánchez, who privately valued Beckham's worth in marketing terms at 500 million euros.

Carlin lays the blame for Manchester United's uncharacteristic lack of financial acumen firmly at the feet of Alex Ferguson, rather than Peter Kenyon's. The United manager's well publicised bust-ups with his player meant that their relationship had irretrievably broken down and Ferguson just wanted to get rid of his troublesome media star.

Earlier this year, half-way through last season, Carlin describes how Beckham has been instrumental in turning Real Madrid into the biggest football brand in the World in marketing terms. He cautions however, that unless footballing success comes for both, the value of the joint brand will diminish.

Hence David Beckham's dilemma in a season where Real Madrid are finally showing some grit and solidity at the back and where they may once again be in contention for a title come next summer, but where the Englishman has been relegated to the bench in the majority of Fabio Capello's line-ups. Can he fight his way back into the starting eleven? Can he cope with just being "one more in the team" should the club win a trophy this season? Can he really do better elsewhere? Will he leave in January? In a recent online poll in Marca, 41% of the voters wanted him to leave, against 59% who wanted him to stay (37% for footballing reasons and 22% for financial reasons).

I have said elsewhere that I expect him to stay this season and to sign a contract extension of at least one year, if not two. To leave in January would mean not being able to compete in Europe as he's cup-tied with Real Madrid. I see no likely candidates for him to go to at the end of the season. There's no point in being the star player in a team that's not going to compete in Europe; that won't promote his brand. His slowness in adapting to life and the language in Spain suggests that he is unlikely to want to move anywhere other than back to England which leaves the following options: Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, and... Barcelona.

Alex Ferguson has taken some time to rebuild his team following the departure of Beckham and Van Nistelrooy (and others) and is unlikely to welcome him back with open arms. I don't think Mourinho would guarantee a starting place for him just because he's David Beckham, and he has plenty of talent at his disposal. Arsenal and Liverpool are slightly more likely if only because they would like the opportunity to rub it into Manchester United's face, but, in footballing terms, they just don't need him. Barcelona would probably relish the chance of paying Real Madrid back for the Figo incident, the start of the whole galáctico era. Again, I just don't see Rijkaard as being the type of manager who would play Beckham just because he's in the squad; that's not the reputation he has built for himself. Oh yeah, he'd also have to learn Catalan...

In conclusion, David Beckham is no longer an essential element for a team that wants to compete at the highest level. He still has a massive marketing presence, and is therefore very attractive in financial terms. His best bet in my opinion would be to stay at Real Madrid, continue fighting for his place (just like McManaman did when he was judged to be 'surplus to requirements', winning the fans' support in the process) and hope that Real win the trophies that would make his move abroad worthwhile.

[Update 29/10/2006: Coincidentally, John Carlin wrote a piece in Sunday's Observer newspaper analysing the plight of David Beckham. He reaches a different conclusion from mine in that he believes Beckham will leave Real Madrid either in January or at the end of the season, but that effectively, he is already on the downhill slope career-wise and that no matter where he ends up, he has little future to speak off. Very depressing. A different view of this article can also be found on Linda's blog, The Beautiful Game]

Continue reading this article »

Thursday, 26 October 2006

Will the Real president please stand up?

Juan Miguel Villar MirJuan Miguel Villar Mir, failed candidate to the presidency of Real Madrid in last summer's elections claimed today that he expects to be declared the winner in "a few weeks or days", once he wins his legal appeal to have the postal vote included.

Villar Mir was vice-president of Real Madrid under the late Ramón Mendoza in the mid-90s and had Carlos Sainz, twice World Rally Champion, as his second-in command during the election.

The Real Madrid elections generated a great deal of controversy over the postal vote, with large question marks over the way it was administered. Many Real Madrid members have complained that their name appears in the list of those who voted by post even though they did not do so, and actually voted in person. The postal vote was annulled by a judge after complaints from some of the candidates

The final decision on what to do with the postal vote is with the judiciary, although any outcome which overturns the result of the election would be hard fought by the eventual winner (counting votes which were cast in person), Ramón Calderón.

It is a strange parallel to the US presidential election in 2000 which was finally decided in the courts (though that was mostly about 'chads' and the voters' intentions, rather than the postal vote). It is shameful that Real Madrid should have conducted their elections in this manner, with no guarantees as to the legitimacy of the election process, and it is essential that the current incumbent changes the rules so this cannot be repeated once again.

Continue reading this article »

Wednesday, 25 October 2006

Calderón does it again...

He really can't help himself. One of the (few) laudable things about Florentino Pérez's presidency of Real Madrid was that he shunned the cameras and let others do the talking (unfortunately, this tended mostly to be Butragueño, who, great player though he was, sucked as vice president).

Ramón Calderón, on the other hand, seems to bask in the glow of the camera lights, which does not necessarily mean it's a bad thing except that he keeps putting his foot in it. The sad thing is that he's probably as good a candidate for the job as any of the others that didn't make it in the summer.

In his latest latest contributions in an interview with the Spanish news agency EFE he delighted us all with

On Raúl's renaissance:

After Getafe, he told me in Bucharest that he had been suffering a lot, not sleeping and that if things continued in the same vein he would leave, terminate his contract and free the club from having to pay his salary. We're going to try to get national side to play the qualifier against Denmark on the 24th of March at the Bernabéu, but if they don't pick Raúl, we won't let them use the stadium...

The Spanish Federation must be quaking in their boots... Does he just make it up as he goes along?

On Helguera's renaissance:
His behaviour has been exemplary. I congratulated him. He was going to leave us in August. It proves that Capello is not an inflexible man.

He wasn't leaving, he was being pushed. Capello had no choice (through injuries and suspensions) but to use him, and he is nothing if not a pragmatist when it comes to getting results.

On Beckham's contract negotiations:
I think he will renew. He is happy in his new house and with his kids' school; they are already speaking Spanish. I've spoken to his agent and everything is in place for him to sign for another two years

Funny that Beckham's recently been speaking of his "frustration"
at being left on the bench and "refusing to sign" (to be fair the last quote is from The Sun, not always the most reliable of news institutions). I thought Calderón wasn't going to get involved with technical decisions involving players?

On Roberto Carlos:
He will stay with us. He has proved to be irreplaceable

He's only irreplaceable because Real Madrid hasn't managed to find a decent left back on the market. Roberto Carlos has been mostly great for the past 10 years, but is close to being 'past it'. I thought Calderón wasn't going to get involved with technical decisions involving players?

On the winter transfer market
I don't get involved

Ah, that explains it.

On Real Madrid taking over the World
We're going to have our own rugby team, a futsal and a women's football team. In December we'll have a private jet with room for 140 first class passengers and the club crest on the wings so wherever we go we'll already be 1-0 up

What's he on about? A rugby team? why?

Continue reading this article »

Monday, 23 October 2006

"It's only a game...

Raúl scores the first of Real's two goals... we haven't won the League or the Champions League", said Emerson today, referring to Real Madrid's timely victory over Barcelona on Sunday night. Fabio Capello, in the press conference following the end of the game, attributed to himself a large deal of credit for his side's performance: "we are now a team". When asked why now and not a week earlier, he replied "because of the talk I had with the players after Getafe".

The 'talk', rumoured to have consisted of a full-blown scream-fest and threats of contract terminations and watching out the season from the stands seems to have had the desired effect. It helped that Steaua, Real's next opponents, would probably struggle against most teams in the Spanish Primera División and played with a generosity in defence hard to find in the rest of the Champions League. A great morale booster.

It helped that Barcelona met their toughest rivals so far and had their morale dented by a switched-on Chelsea.

It helped that Barcelona took 15 minutes to warm up at the Bernabéu and by that time Raúl had done his "thing", scored once and hit the woodwork once.

It helped that Cannavaro finally decided to display some of the form and class he showed at the World Cup, and that Helguera seems to have been re-born after his inclusion in the starting line-up, creating a wall in the centre of defence, that soaked up the intense pressure Barcelona poured on them for most of the first half.

It helped that Capello is not a proud man, so that Robinho's brand of flashy step-overs and mazy runs has a place in the squad, especially if it inspires his fellow team-mates and gets results.

It helped that the referee did not see fit to send Emerson off for a second bookable offence, after he brought Messi (Barça's best man by far) down once again towards the end of the first half.

It helped that Victor Valdés decided to go out mushroom picking (or something) when he really should have stopped 'van the Man' from scoring Real's second and effectively putting paid to Barcelona's chances.

All in all, there are plenty of reasons why this was just one game, one win, and why Real fans should not let their despair turn to euphoria, just because the 'auld enemy' has been beaten.

But it's hard not to smile when Real Madrid beats Barcelona ;)
Match report

Continue reading this article »

Friday, 20 October 2006

Helguera grabs his chance

Iván HelgueraHe's spent the last 9 months or so in footballing limbo, blamed by Real's previous coach, López Caro, for the team's weakness in defence. He was lined up to leave and go back to his native Santander, but the deal fell through at such a late stage during the transfer window, that the club had already registered Diarra with his shirt number '6'. Capello's arrival did not see any improvement in Helguera's fortunes, and he was more often than not sent to train with the youngsters in the 'B' team.

This must have been hard for someone who has been a near-permanent fixture in the centre of defence since he joined Real Madrid in 1999, with two Champions League and two Spanish League titles to his credit. Still, he turned up to train with the kids and waited for a chance he thought would never come.

forced Capello's hand and Helguera found himself in his accustomed position on the pitch facing Getafe. While Real's performance on the day is universally regarded as beyond awful, Iván was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise lacklustre side. Enough to retain his place in the side for the mid-week clash against Steaua.

His performance in Bucharest, where he often initiated Real's attacking plays, combining with Guti and Robinho means he is now expected to start against Barcelona on Sunday. A good performance there, and given that Sergio Ramos seems more comfortable and effective playing as right back, could mean that Michel Salgado will find it hard to break back into the side when he returns from injury.

Yesterday, the man voted best defender in the last World Cup, Fabio Cannavaro, was singing his praises: "He's had his problems with the club, but he's a great defender, the most intelligent in the squad, and he's got balls".

Continue reading this article »

Thursday, 19 October 2006

Can't get in for love nor money.... well, maybe money

Santiago Bernabéu stadiumAs is ever the case for the Real Madrid vs. Barcelona Clásico, the few tickets put on sale to the general public sold out within two hours, and a whole bunch of those found their way onto internet auction sites within minutes to be re-sold at exorbitant mark-ups of up to 300 and 400 euros each.

The problem has been exacerbated by Ramón Calderón's rare keeping of an election promise to increase the number of season ticket holders by 5,000 to 70,000. After sponsor commitments, etc. (including 350 for Barcelona supporters, the same number of Real Madrid fans that travelled to the Nou Camp last time) this leaves only around 8,000 seats for sale. These are preferentially (and in this case, exclusively) sold to club members without a season ticket, as they pay an annual subscription for the privilege.

Season ticket holders who cannot attend the game can re-sell their seat through the club and get back a portion of their annual subcription. Of course, many find it far more lucrative to just 'rent' their seat to the highest bidder, potentially paying their annual fee with one or two of these transactions...

Continue reading this article »

Wednesday, 18 October 2006

Press reactions to Bucharest game

Marca front pageA victory which lets Real Madrid breathe somewhat more easily in the five days leading up to the 'big game' at home to Barcelona is viewed by the Spanish press from a number of different angles:

The Catalan sports press is at pains to point out the weakness of the opponents: El Mundo Deportivo says Steaua proved a "good friend" to Real by fielding their "school playground goalkeeper", while Sport says Steaua proved to be "very soft" opponents, letting Capello "take a breather" before the Barcelona game. They're also the only ones who saw some disunity in the side, mentioning Guti's dissatisfaction when he was substituted by Beckham with 20 minutes still to go.

A more balanced view can be seen in the 'regular' papers, with El Mundo and El Periódico both pointing to Capello's "common sense in fielding Robinho on the left wing", enabling him to "awaken Real Madrid". El País agrees that "Capello finally discovered Robinho" and calls the game "therapeutic".

The Madrid sports press is its usual bombastic self - it's either a disaster or a glorious victory, with As comparing Europe to a "faithful lover" that "comes to the rescue when times are bad" and a real classic from Marca which defies translation but here's my best attempt: "A defeat in Dracula's homeland could have sucked the blood of more than one [Real player], just before the Barcelona vampire visits the Bernabéu". Pulitzer, anyone?

Continue reading this article »

Tuesday, 17 October 2006

Real denies report of Capello's resignation

Fabio CapelloReal Madrid's sports director, Predrag Mijatovic was quick to pour scorn on reports that Fabio Capello had offered to do a Luis Aragonés and resign following the team's defeat at Getafe on Saturday. "That is untrue. Nothing of this nature has been talked about. It's totally made up. Fabio wants to do everything possible to solve the team's problems at this time and to resign would be cowardly. Capello is not like that; he is a winner and will push forward with his project for Real Madrid."

The report appeared in last night's Maracaná '06 TV programme on the Spanish "cuatro" channel and appears to be the type of unsubstantiated guff that a large proportion of the Spanish sports media (both print and broadcast) peddle on a regular basis to drive up viewing or redership figures. If true, it would make Capello look like an idiot, someone who couldn't manage the players' egos. I can believe that of other managers, but Capello's prior experience at Real and other clubs is proof that he does not tolerate indiscipline. He was incensed at the team's attitude on Saturday and is more likely to bench half the squad than to walk away.

Nonetheless, there is growing pressure on the Italian to deliver. Should results go against him tonight in Bucharest and next Sunday at home to Barcelona, expect the reports of 'crisis' to grow louder. Real president Calderon's stated wish to leave the running of the club to the technical experts would be sorely tested.

Continue reading this article »

Monday, 16 October 2006

The worst refs in Europe?

It is not within the stated remit of this site to comment on matters not related in some way to Real Madrid, but an article in today's As by its editor, Alfredo Relaño, on Spanish refereeing standards, caught my attention and I think warrants some discussion.

Referees in Spain are generally not well regarded. Even tax inspectors think themselves a rung or two above them on the ladder of respect. This is probably true in most leagues around the World, as referees and their linesmen (or whatever they are called these days) bear the brunt of the blame from fans and media alike for any mistakes they make. These are further emphasised by television replays from multiple camera angles, plus the benefit of hindsight when you don't have to make a split-second decision.

It is not just human error that is blamed, however. It is common in Spain for fans, the media, managers, club presidents and pretty much everyone else to claim a refereeing decision was influenced in some way or other by a referee's like or dislike for a particular team or player. Thus, referees get a pretty hard time of it almost constantly, and it is in their interests to remain above it all, and to conduct their business with dignity and transparency.

Which brings us back to Alfredo Relaño's opinion article. In it he describes a murky world of patronage and nepotism, where some (allegedly poor) referees get 'promoted' to officiate in the top division by virtue of who they know rather than on their performance on the pitch. He claims that the system is fundamentally flawed as those in charge of assessing the performance of referees do so knowing in advance what the answers will be, all aided and abetted by the president of the Technical Committee on Referees, Victoriano Sánchez Arminio (a former 'man in black' himself). Relaño takes some of the blame off referees by laying into 'cheating' players who try to persuade the officials to see things their way.

Bad sportsmanship and bad referees: a match made in Hell.

Continue reading this article »

Schuster gets his revenge

Bernd Schuster, the Sam Allardyce of La Liga (in terms of building successful teams with a modest budget, not allegations of improper transfer commissions), notched his first ever win as a manager over Real Madrid, reminding their president why he had been considered as a potential manager for the Madrid side before being passed over for Fabio Capello.

He was helped by the worst Real Madrid performance this season (which, after the Lyon game is saying something), culminating in their first league defeat. Another first saw Ronaldo getting red-carded in the league for complaining to the referee over one of his decisions - it was a week-end of bizarre sendings off in La Liga, this one by no means the strangest, highlighting the 'touchiness' of Spanish officials.

Not a single player is worthy of mention, except perhaps the recalled Iván Helguera in the centre of defence. Capello has his work cut out to pick a team this week with a visit to Bucharest on Tuesday where Real need to get a point at least to consolidate their second place in their Champions League group and next Sunday's Clásico at home to Barcelona.
Match report

Continue reading this article »

Friday, 13 October 2006

Makeshift defence for the Getafe clash

Fabio CannavaroFabio Cannavaro, fresh from international duty against Ukraine and being tipped as the hot favourite for European Footballer of the Year, returned to Madrid with a knee injury and is doubtful for the encounter against Getafe on Saturday evening.

Cannavaro's is the latest in a spate of injuries afflicting the Real Madrid defence. The loss of Cicinho, out for 6 months, and Salgado, who picked up a knock in training this week, means youngster Alvaro Mejía is almost guaranteed a starting place as right back. In central defence, in addition to Cannavaro, Sergio Ramos is suspended after his sending off in Real's last game against Atlético. Capello is likely to call up Raúl Bravo, and alongside him he will have to pick one of this season's "rejects": Helguera or Pavón. Of Capello's usual starters, only Roberto Carlos is fully fit and will start on Saturday down his usual left flank.

Continue reading this article »

Thursday, 12 October 2006

Will Cannavaro fit in?

Cannavaro in his first league match for Real MadridItaly captain, World Cup champion, Fabio Cannavaro was one of the stellar signings of the summer. He was seen as a key component of the new Real Madrid under the other Fabio, Capello. Where Real Madrid previously let in goals (Casillas' heroics notwithstanding) like a leaky bucket, under Capello they would be impregnable. But, like Emerson, Real's other defensive-minded signing from Juventus, Cannavaro is yet to impress.

El País publishes some telling statistics: In his last season at Juventus, Cannavaro made a foul every 42 minutes; at Real so far this season, every 95. His team-mate in the centre of defence, Sergio Ramos, makes a foul every 29 minutes. Last season, Cannavaro cleared crosses into the area every 32 minutes, now he does it every 52. The article claims this is clear evidence of his diminished efficiency, although it fails to point out that, with Valencia, Real Madrid has the most economical defence in the league, having conceded just two goals in five games. Maybe numbers aren't everything.

The player himself claims he needs time to adapt to the style of play of 'La Liga', while the club says he's paying the price for Italy's extended (and successful) World Cup campaign and joining the team late in the preseason, as well as the fact that, at Real Madrid, the fullbacks don't defend, putting more pressure on the central defenders. While both Roberto Carlos and Salgado (when he's not injured) have attacking duties, it seems a little disingenuous to say that they don't defend, particularly under Capello.

Cesare Maldini, with whom Cannavaro made his international debut at both under-21 and full levels, asks for patience: "I've seen all of Real's games and I think that Fabio's problems are due to the team as a whole. A lot of players are new in their positions, and he still needs time to learn to play with them effectively. He may also be suffering a little from the long World Cup. It's normal that players who have gone so far in such an important tournament have some physical consequences of having played so many matches, the associated stress, the shortened holidays, and missing most of the preseason. It's inevitable that this will have an effect on his performance at the beginning of the season, but I'm convinced Fabio still has a couple of years at the very highest level".

Continue reading this article »

Tuesday, 10 October 2006

Real president looks back on his first 100 days

In a lengthy interview with Spanish daily As, Real Madrid president Ramón Calderón reviews his initial 100 days in office. As is second only to the club's own press office in singing the praises of Real Madrid, so you shouldn't expect a searching, challenging interview, but there are a few interesting tidbits (translation is my own):

On calling new elections within a year:

First you have to pacify the club. Elections should not disturb the running of the club and up until now they have definitely had an impact. Everything had to stop for them, and that is not good. I am not ruling out calling elections, but I cannot foresee the date when they would take place. I was elected for four years and I would like to serve that time. It would be good for the stability of the club.

He seems to be hoping for a good set of results this season to take the pressure off him to call elections that he might lose.

On reactions to his running of the club:
After this first 100 days, it is unexpected to see so much unwillingness to trust the team. If I could, I would erase from this period peple's lack of patience. We have lost none of our five league games, and conceded only two goals. The only failure was that day at Lyon.

Is he being purposefully naive about the fans' patience running out? Three years with no titles...

On not interfering:
Any coach knows more about football than a president. I may have my own opinions, but they are not worth as much as those of a professional. To interfere in the starting line-up would be suicidal.

Let's hope this doesn't come back to haunt him...

On Raúl:
Capello is selecting him because he knows Raúl is a key player. Capello has no favourites so he is playing purely on merit. I hope Luis (Aragonés) knows what he's doing. But I think Raúl will be back in the national side..

On Beckham retiring:
I have called Beckham personally to talk about his future and there will be no problems, absolutely not. All that was a misunderstanding based on an inaccurate translation of what I wanted to say.

In other reports, he confirmed that he had said that Beckham would retire in two years, but that it was based on what he had heard from others, rather than from the player himself.

On not keeping his election promises:
On the street they have forgotten about the whole Kaká saga, a player we would still like to have in our squad, but it is clear that if people voted for me it wasn't because of him. Kaká was a small piece of my overall programme. People voted for me because I brought Capello and with him a serious approach to the sporting side of running the club.

He seems to have conveniently forgotten about also promising to bring Cesc and Robben...

Continue reading this article »

Monday, 9 October 2006

Beckham's woes increase

David Beckham could be facing a pay cut if he stays at Real Madrid, reports Simon Talbot on Thursday's Guardian. With both sides currently locked in contract negotiations, this is probably just another media salvo to up the psychological stakes, but it does mark another stage in Beckham's torrid last few months. England's disappointing (to say the least) World Cup campaign was followed by his tearfully stepping down as captain the morning after his team had been knocked out by Portugal.

His troubles were just beginning, however, after Steve McClaren swiftly made it obvious that the former captain did not have a place in his new-look side and Real's coach Fabio Capello has shown he prefers ex-Gunner Reyes on the right, relegating Beckham to the bench in their last four games. Beckham can start talking to other clubs from 1st January, as his contract expires at the end of this season, but I expect him to renew for at last one more season and for both sides to claim they got what they wanted out of the negotiations. To leave Real Madrid having won no trophies (the Spanish Supercup does not count) would be a monumental failure and I don't see him going back to join a Premiership side other than United. Going to another major European club is probably out of the question; he's found it hard enough acclimatising to Spain (Steve McManaman spoke better Spanish in three months than he has in three years).

On the bright side, he should feature in Capello's plans in the long term; the Italian has shown he likes players with commitment above those with quality, and one thing Beckham has in spades is his workrate. This is something he has in common with Raúl, his captain at Real, whom Capello has stood by even after he had been dropped from the Spanish squad by troubled manager Luis Aragonés. Also, it is reported that the MLS is changing the rules over the player salary caps from next season, paving the way for a multi-million dollar move to the US once Beckham decides his days as a top-rated footballer are over.

Continue reading this article »

Friday, 6 October 2006

Handbags at dawn...

Real Madrid president Ramón Calderón had a serious case of foot-in-mouth in an interview with BBC Radio Five Live when he firstly intimated that David Beckham would be retiring in two years' time (strenuously denied by Becks' spokesman) and secondly by suggesting that Roman Abramovich's Chelsea were hyper-inflating the football market by paying over the odds for their transfer targets (around 50 million euros for out-of-sorts Andrei Shevchenko this summer).

If it weren't bad enough that this sounds like a school playground whine - a big boy did it and ran away - it smacks of hypocrisy from a club who paid the current world record transfer fee of 73 million euros for Zinedine Zidane back in 2001. Admittedly the club was run by someone else at the time.

Chelsea's riposte was not long in coming, via Chelsea's director of communications Simon Greenberg, who could not help having a dig: "We run ourselves as much as we can as a plc and we are completely transparent about our accounts - which is something that cannot be said for many top European clubs, including, I would say, Real Madrid." Chelsea, transparent?

What was Calderón hoping to achieve? Having failed to deliver on his election promises (Cesc, Kaká), he compounds it with his inept media relations. The best Real can hope for is that he keeps his mouth shut in future.

Continue reading this article »

Thursday, 5 October 2006

I used to run...

...a Real Madrid website. If you've been online for a while you may even have seen it. It was hosted at but don't try looking for it; I stopped updating it on the 10th anniversary of its inception, back in January 2005.

Back in 1995 the web was young. Sources of information were (relatively) scarce and dispersed and I tried to provide all things for all people: up-to-date news, results, squads, history. Ten years on there seemed little point. Almost everything I had lovingly hand-coded was available on slicker, commercial websites; a one-stop-shop took too much effort and didn't really add anything.

So why come back to it? Because I think there's always room for opinions rather than just facts. And because the blogging medium is intrinsically collaborative. I don't intend to censor comments on this site (all opinions have a right to be heard), and there's nothing quite like a good debate, although I reserve the right to remove anything unnecessarily offensive or defamatory.

It's your chance to get involved. If you write regularly and well, I will be more than happy to give you access to post your own articles.

So what do you think?

Continue reading this article »

Wednesday, 4 October 2006


Continue reading this article »