Great teams evolve … they’re never bought off the shelf
One of the cruellest insults thrown at Florentino Perez during his first spell at Real Madrid was that the president had turned a great team into football’s version of the Harlem Globetrotters.
First time around, it took Perez three years to assemble the All-Star cast that came to define his project, and another three for it to collapse under the combined weight of the salaries and egos, and those damned image rights we heard so much about.
In his second spell, Perez seems intent on proving that the only thing he did wrong at the start of the decade was move too slowly.
If Marca and As are correct, David Villa will be the next to come, with Xabi Alonso, David Silva and Franck Ribery among the other targets.
The total outlay could be 300 million euros — plus the agents’ fees and the salary commitments for the next half-decade or so. Whether you feel that sort of spending is justifiable in the current climate, and there are plenty who will see it as plain wrong, this is not going to bring Real back to the position they once held as the neutral’s favourite.
The Bernabeu should certainly be an entertaining place to be next season, as Manuel Pellegrini tries to find a way of getting all the new signings playing together (and leaving any of them on the bench will not be an option).
But even if the coach finds the magic formula and Real win their 10th European Cup at their home ground come next May, they are unlikely to generate the sort of admiration and respect that Barcelona have inspired under Pep Guardiola this season.
Great teams are left to evolve over time and are often based around a nucleus of home grown players (think United’s European Cup winning team in 1999 or Guardiola’s Barcelona).
Some are brought together by a coach’s philosophy or force of personality and yes, it often takes a big-name signing to bring out the best in those around them.
Great teams come together in all sorts of ways but they are never designed with marketing in mind, and they are never just bought off the shelf.
GLOBETROTTERS: A member of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team nicknamed Airport hangs on to the hoop after he makes a dunk during an exhibition match in Budapest February 28, 2008 REUTERS/Karoly Arvai
RONALDO: Cristiano Ronaldo is seen celebrating Manchester United’s victory against Porto after their Champions League quarter-final, second leg match in Porto, in this April 15 2009 file photograph. REUTERS/Miguel Vidal