Tuesday, 9 January 2007

The knives are out

Mijatovic wants changesPredrag Mijatovic is not a happy chappy. He is also single-headedly responsible for the recent spike in the Brylcreem share price, but that's another story. Following the debacle at Riazor on Sunday, Real Madrid's sports director held an urgent meeting with Fabio Capello to discuss the solution to the club's current crisis.

Their assessment is clear: there are a number of players in the club who are not responding as expected, and steps will be taken to resolve this. No details were forthcoming as to what these steps might be and when they would be applied, but Mijatovic reiterated his belief that Capello can 'fix' things: "He has been in similar situations before and always achieved the objectives that were set".

Of course, Calderón & co. cannot simply fire Capello and start again with a new manager: their situation is precarious enough as it is, and, in any case, this has not helped any of the times this has happened in recent years. If, as has been suggested may times before, the malaise lies in the fact that several players in the squad have far more influence than is healthy, then their biggest mistake was to expect results within 12 months; they should have cleaned out the Augean stables at the beginning of the season and started from scratch, calling this a 'transition year'.

What is interesting is the reaction from the Madrid sports press. As has an interview with Mijatovic where he says "we cannot afford the luxury of having a number of players living from their past, their Champions League successes". The paper also claims to know the contents of the meeting between Mijatovic and Capello and the players that are facing the chop, with Ronaldo first on the list, and adding Cassano (unsurprisingly) and Beckham (more surprisingly, given his recently increased renewal offer). Others who may see less first team football are Salgado, Emerson, Guti and Raúl.

Marca, on the other hand, does not seem to have the ear of the club management. Hence their headlines are all about players feeling that Capello is showing signs of weakness, that the players are not enjoying their time on the pitch, or that the club is looking at selling Diarra to Inter Milan, after spending 26 million euros on him in the summer at Capello's urging. More suspicious souls might infer that Marca is used to getting their exclusives from dressing room leaks, and that some of these leaks may be facing the chop, so the best way to safeguard them is to get the manager fired. Again.

The knives are out for someone. Who will end up surviving the cull is the question.

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