Real Madrid need stability — not another new coach
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez will have two conflicting voices whispering in his ear as he contemplates Wednesday’s devastating Champions League exit against Olympique Lyon.
His better angel will be telling him to stay calm, remember that the Primera Liga title is still very much in play, that the team has actually looked pretty good lately and that a bit of stability is long overdue.
The devil on the other shoulder will be telling him to stop being so lily-livered and fire coach Manuel Pellegrini, if not right away then certainly at the end of the season.
The latter view was being trumpeted by the influential Marca within minutes of the end of Wednesday’s dreadful second half display. “Goodbye to the Champions League and goodbye to Pellegrini,” was the headline on marca.es and the newspaper’s editor, Eduardo Inda used his video blog to make the case in more detail.
So who should Perez listen to?
The Marca argument is that Florentino’s Real need a coach of suitably galactic stature. According to this theory, only five or six coaches around Europe would be up to the task of managing The World’s Greatest Club, with Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti at the top of a list that maybe also includes Rafa Benitez, Guus Hiddink and Fabio Capello.
Capello and Hiddink have been there, done that, of course, while Wenger has reportedly told Real not to bother calling him, Ancelotti is only a year in to his Chelsea contract and stock in Benitez is falling faster than house prices on a Costa del Sol golf complex.
That leaves Mourinho as the most tempting target and I’m sure he’d do a decent job if they could persuade him away from Inter. It’s true he didn’t manage to win the Champions League with Chelsea or Inter Milan (so far) but he can clearly handle big egos in the dressing room.
I can’t help feeling, though, that the last thing Real need is yet another high profile coach coming in to stamp his authority all over the squad, spend another hundred million euros or so on new players and ship out the ones he doesn’t like at great expense.
Since Perez made the calamitous decision to replace Vicente del Bosque in 2003, Real have been through nine coaches and have not reached a Champions League final. In the same period, Barcelona have had two coaches and won the European Cup twice, and Manchester United, Liverpool and AC Milan have likewise reaped the benefits of coaching stability by reaching more than one final.
Pellegrini may not have been Perez’s first choice but despite the disappointing results in the Copa del Rey and Champions League he deserves credit for putting Barcelona back under pressure this season.
He may or may not have anything to show for his trouble come the end of the season but that shouldn’t matter. Whether Real finish the season in first or second place, Perez and Jorge Valdano should sit down with Pellegrini and give the coach a real say in the planning process for 2010-11.
Real have great players but have not yet turned into a great team. Changing coach again will only delay that transformation still further.
PHOTO: Real Madrid’s coach Manuel Pellegrini reacts during their Champions League last 16, second leg soccer match against Olympique Lyon at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid March 10, 2010. REUTERS/Paul Hanna