Tuesday, 28 November 2006

The long arm of Florentino...

Florentino Pérez
Niccolò Machiavelli would have found much to illuminate his examples on how to acquire and retain power in The Prince by watching the intriguing goings-on at Real Madrid and the fight for control of its presidency.

On the face of it, this coming Sunday's Annual General Meeting should be a chance for Ramón Calderón to show off the new TV contract and to talk about potential new signings for the winter transfer window (Marcelo's already in the bag).

This should enable him to reform the club's statutes to get rid of the postal vote in future presidential elections, which has so far haunted the legitimacy of his position.

But there are a number of players behind the scenes hoping to derail the meeting and force new elections to be called before the end of the season. While Villar Mir is still hoping to have the postal vote declared valid, which he believes will give him enough votes to be elected president, Don Balón reports this week that former president Florentino Pérez has allegedly repented from his decision to resign last February and is looking to see whether he has the support to make a comeback.

This, from a man who said "if it weren't my responsibility I wouldn't have resigned and I don't come back from where I've left". Although this was also the man who famously said "never, never, never" when asked whether he had any plans to bring David Beckham to Real Madrid.

According to Don Balón, Florentino has commissioned a series of telephone polls of Real Madrid members to see whether they would like to see him back at the helm. And he's primed a number of people to ask awkward questions at Sunday's meeting in the hopes of forcing Calderón to acknowledge he is not in control of the club and to call for an election.

The landscape at Real Madrid, in terms of management style, has changed greatly with the arrival of Calderón and Capello. Love it or hate it, it's what the fans wanted: no interference with the manager and results at the expense of everything else, after three years of winning nothing. Former Real Madrid sports director, Arrigo Sacchi, today launched an attack on the way things were run under Florentino: "Now only those who are playing and training well are starting. When I was there I had the feeling that certain players had to play at all costs, whether they were in form or not and that was not good. Now they are letting the manager do his job".

Sunday's meeting is only the start, but it promises to be an interesting battle for control...

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