New transfer policy a breath of fresh air for Madridistas

Einstein once famously said insanity was to repeat the same things over and over again and expect different results. It’s a quote thats meaning can be transferred to all walks of life, including sport. Today it was confirmed that James Rodriguez would be joining the ranks at the Estadio de Santiago Bernabeu for a sizeable fee in excess of £63m. Now, the fee is not necessarily a bad decision, in times to come it might prove a bargain, who knows? In my opinion, it is a little excessive, despite all of the valid attributes he possesses. However, what is surely not excessive is the unavoidable excitement ahead of the Spanish Primera Division’s next season. The reason for most is that two out of the top 3, Barcelona and Real Madrid, have gone on a worldwide spending spree in an effort to return to the summit of La Liga. This is more understandable for Barcelona, who, by their previous standards, had a dismal, trophyless season last year. However Real Madrid have just won the Champions League, supposedly the best and most testing competition in world football. That’s not the sign of a team that needs an expensive new ream of talented players. Still though, I can see why they would feel it is necessary in order to keep up with big-spending Barca.
Only, this huge investment in World Cup stars by Real Madrid seems familiar. Oh, that’s right, that’s because they do it every four years, most notably in the years following the 2002 World Cup. They built a team of Galacticos, or so they said. But you see, success wasn’t just around the corner for the most expensive team in the world at the time. Sure, they won La Liga in 2003, but after that it took four years until they won it again. They didn’t win a European title again until this year. The Galactico project didn’t work. Buying a team of international superstars and throwing them on the pitch together wasn’t enough to win trophies on a consistent basis, especially at a European level. Most seasons success in Spain was almost handed to Real Madrid if Barcelona were having a poor season, and vice versa. The real test was in the Champions League, where they failed time, after time, after time. For the romantics it was wonderful to see this all consuming business juggernaut be knocked out by teams with much more limited resources but to the fans of Real Madrid, this was a disaster and for some reason, each season the lack of success was blamed on the manager. We saw the likes of Camacho, Capello and Schuster all axed after terms that were too short to be condemned for. All this time and there was no rethink of the transfer policy, or of the revolving doors style manager-hiring policy either.
They were shown up by the Barcelona revolution, inspired by Pep Guardiola and the team he assembled, mostly from the youth teams of years gone by. It was a team with a plan on and off the pitch, which Real haven’t really seemed to properly grasp for the last decade. Finally, last year, with a team built up over a number of years, Real Madrid became champions of Europe for the 10th time. La Decima, as they christened it, was a result of years of planning and sometimes heavy investment. However, it was a different type of investment. It was an investment in younger players, e.g. Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Isco, Fabio Coentrao. The list goes on. This type of rethink of their transfer policy was vital if they were to achieve success at European level. Ancelotti was trusted to co-ordinate a playing style that suited the players at his disposal, which he managed to do of course. They’ve decided to build on this squad, with additions like James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos. These are younger players than the likes of Cannavaro, Emerson and Van Nistelrooy, who were all in their 30’s signing for Real. They’re still big names that command big fees, but they’re long term signings. It’s yet to be seen if these younger players will deliver success to one of the proudest clubs in the world, but at least the big cheese at Real noticed that a change was needed, because, failure to change, if you remember, would have been insanity.

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