Saturday, 15 November 2008

That sinking feeling

With talk of this game being make or break for Bernd Schuster, you would think that both coach and players would make that extra effort to show everybody that they are worthy holders of the league championship they conquered last year. None of this was in evidence as an extremely poor Real Madrid fell to a not particularly inspired Valladolid. Not even their goalscoring prowess came to the rescue this time, as they failed to score for the first time this season.

Perhaps they were really missing Ruud van Nistelrooy, who was earlier this week diagnosed with a serious knee injury that could keep him out for up to nine months. The players wore tee-shirts with messages of support to the Dutch goal-magnet as they stepped onto the pitch.

Schuster's approach to this game was visibly cautious, with the more defensive Javi García in for Wesley Sneijder in midfield, waiting for openings in the Valladolid defence, instead of taking the initiative. Guti, often the player others look to, was totally uninspired and Real felt flat, with no depth or width, and none of the self-belief that has got them out of trouble in other games this season.

Though Valladolid have not been prolific in their scoring thus far, they had one chance just after the half-time break and took it well through Canobbio.

The expected reaction did not come. Sure, they had a couple of chances to put the game level, and perhaps they should have taken them, but did they look like a winning team out there? No, they looked like little lost sheep, scared to show what we have seen they are capable of.

Frankly, the fixture list for November is not as complicated as the one that closes out 2008, and yet Real Madrid are making a meal of every game. You have to wonder whether Calderón and the board will have to get rid of Schuster sooner rather than later, especially given the fact that no reaction seems forthcoming from the players.


Anonymous said...

The performance was a joke, a total embarrassment. I can´t even begin to fathom out either what´s gone wrong or what can be done to remedy it.
It´s certainly brought home the fact that RM have been scraping through with results either by luck or individual brilliance or both and when neither comes together the emperor is revealed naked
Not sure if I´m happy that Schuster has got a ´vote of confidence´as I feel he has lost the respect of the dressing room and lacks discipline as well as obviously being left to protect Mr Brylcreme who sleeps upside down in a wardrobe.
These are times when a nutty oligargh is preferable than a paranoid political manipulator, sorry democratically elected president

T said...

Would it be fair to say there's an element of the Spanish mentality that enjoys these dramas and crises, even revels in them, or am I straying too far up stereotype alley there?
Is it an inbuilt problem with elected presidents, or the director of football post?
When was Real Madrid last run well? Did success mask fundamental problems?

t said...

skipping training - without informing the club - to attend the christening of his daughter in Salamanca.

More importantly though, just how old is Schuster's missus? Was married to a famous old German battleaxe last I heard, do they mean grandchild?

Gonzalo said...

@Anonymous, The problem with a 'nutty oligarch' (can I trademark the phrase?) is that when he decides he's had enough, you're left with nothing. If Abramovich decided he was fed up with Chelsea, they'd be saddled with so much debt they'd disappear faster than a cream pie in Ronaldo's vicinity. I think Calderón's days are numbered... the problem is there's no obvious alternative.

@t, I don't think it's exclusively a Spanish thing, though it definitely has a flavour all of its own. But you only have to look at the tabloid press in any football-mad country to see that there's an element of it just about anywhere. However, the presidential model at Real Madrid (and Barcelona - think Gaspart) sometimes attracts a type of self-aggrandising populist that couldn't run a tap.

Without straying into gossip column territory too much, I think Schuster is either separated or divorced from his wife (and former manager/agent) and his girlfriend recently gave birth. There wasn't supposed to be a training session on Sunday, but after the Valladolid debacle, Mijatovic insisted on one to 'keep up appearances' - however, they made it a 'voluntary' session and Schuster went off to his previous appointment.

Anonymous said...

I see your point Gonzalo, but most billionaire owners sell on to at least recoup something or make a profit (read M City) whereas Calderón obviously thought he could stretch through this season and pull out some magic for election year, which obviously (as Schuster vociferously pointed out) wasn´t right for the team. Plus you can only stand for election if you are super rich and you don´t usually get there without some machivellian dabblings.

Gonzalo said...


Don't get me wrong, there's plenty wrong with the Real Madrid presidential model - I've argued previously for far more transparency in the financial accounting and the membership model ( but the system as it stands is unlikely to seemuch reform unless it is forced on it (e.g. through external legislation)