Real’s problems begin in the boardroom

March 12, 2009

The Spanish press have one question on their minds following Real Madrid’s Champions League humiliation at the hands of Liverpool.

Why has the club that dominated Europe from 1998 to 2002 failed to make it past the last 16 of the Champions League in five years, despite spending (wasting?) tens of millions of euros in the transfer market?

Amid pictures of a tearful-looking Iker Casillas and a jubilant Fernando Torres (the former Atletico icon’s success is a bitter pill for the Real faithful to swallow), the consensus seemed to be that the club’s institutional problems were a big factor.

In Vicente Boluda, Real currently have a stop-gap president following the resignation of Ramon Calderon in a vote-rigging scandal.

Calderon took over from Florentino “Galacticos” Perez in 2006 but was unable to replicate his predecessor’s European triumphs.

The revolving door to the coach’s office has added to the lack of coherence and questions have been asked about the power wielded by some of the club’s longest-serving players, especially Raul, Guti and Michel Salgado.

A comparison with Liverpool is telling: Since Rafael Benitez (a former Real reserve team coach) was appointed in 2004, Real have had eight coaches, culminating in current boss Juande Ramos.

Writing in Wednesday’s El Pais, Jose Samano said elections must be held sooner rather than later so a new president can breathe life into the club.

“Madrid have hit rock bottom,” he wrote. “They have been there for a while on the institutional side and now they have fallen off a cliff in the sporting arena.”

“Objective: win the league” was the message on Real’s website after the Liverpool defeat but even if they manage to haul in leaders Barcelona it will hardly be enough to placate their hugely demanding fans.

Time for Florentino to make a comeback?

PHOTO: Real Madrid players walk off the pitch after their Champions League defeat at Liverpool, March 10, 2009. REUTERS/Max Rossi

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