Recipe for Real greatness (1 Viewer)


Senior Member
Dec 31, 2000
Recipe for Real greatness

It was educational to hear Jorge Valdano, in a recent SBS interview, nominate who at his club exactly decides which star player Real Madrid will sign next.

Valdano, now the influential head of football matters at the Bernabeu, explained that it was no one in particular, or at least it was critical that no one in particular, not any one of the club’s executive personalities, be given public credit for luring a player to Madrid, whether it be Zidane or Ronaldo or anyone else.

In the unique Madrid club culture, Valdano went on, it was important to maintain and protect the notion that players are signed by Real Madrid and not by its coach, nor its president, nor its football manager nor anyone else.

It was to ensure that the player in question owes no particular allegiance to any one individual, only to the club.

It is classic Real Madrid where, more than anywhere else, no one individual is bigger than the club.

That lofty principle is, of course, one that every club in the world likes to subscribe or at least pay lip service to.

But while Real Madrid has turned it into an art form, at most other places it is a pompous lie.

Take Manchester United where the manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, towers like a controlling colossus.

He is singularly credited with the signing of Cantona, Keane, Yorke, Cole, Kanchelskis, Stam, Barthez, Veron, Van Nistelrooy and Ferdinand.

And he is rightly held responsible for the grubby departures of Stam and Bosnich and abject failures like Taibi and, surely, Diego Forlan.

Manchester United bigger than any man? It's a myth.

Alex Ferguson IS Manchester United. He rules it like a five star commissar, by divine decree of the results that his marathon reign (thanks to the tenacious patience of his board) has delivered.

Not so distasteful but of a similar strain are Arsenal and Liverpool.

At Highbury, Arsene Wenger IS Arsenal, by virtue of whom he buys, whom he discards, what results he gets and by the methods by which he gets them.

At Anfield, Gerard Houllier, the same. He is 'Le Patron' and the proud traditions of the club and its admired methods are often over-ridden in a way that would not be permitted at Madrid.

At Madrid's premier rivals, Barcelona, Louis van Gaal, who once turned the symbol of Catalonia into a little Holland, has been brought back to provide a messianic route to ascension.

At the Nou Camp, who is the real star? Is it Kluivert, Saviola, Riquelme, Luis Enrique?

No. It is the towering autocrat on the bench with the scribble and the notebook, Louis van Gaal, the coach.

Contrast that with Real Madrid and its humble, colourless and unassuming trainer and selector Vicente del Bosque.

While other clubs scramble for greatness via their high profile coaches, like Ferguson, Wenger, Van Gaal, Cuper, Hitzfeld and Capello, the royal club of Madrid remains their ruler, and maybe it is this 'club above all individuals' formula, in which the coach is just one undistinguished element, that is the secret.

Madrid's history suggests it.

The club has had two golden eras: 1955 to 1960, which produced five straight European Cup wins and the one it is enjoying now.

Each era is equally characterised by a staff of high quality, star players and almost invisible, unobtrusive coaches.

The Real Madrid of the 1950s will always be remembered for Di Stefano, Puskas, Gento, Kopa and even Santamaria, Rial and Canario. But who remembers the coach?

In the latter period of that era, I happen to know that it was Miguel Munoz. But only because earlier he had been a more than useful right half (as was Del Bosque) and I remembered that.

Of the 120,000 plus who thrilled to Madrid's magical 7-3 stroll over Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1960 final in Glasgow, none knew nor cared who the coach was. All credit went to Don Alfredo and his glittering amigos.

Once Spain placed restrictions on foreign signings in the early 1960s, and the tap of star recruits was turned off, Madrid turned to recruiting 'name' coaches for their maintenance of power: Miljanic, Boskov and a long string of others, none of whom could return the club to its greatness.

Even after the importation bans were eased, the coach culture remained with Beenhakker, Toshack (twice), Valdano, Heynckes, Capello, Hiddink and the rest.

In 23 years between 1965, when Madrid again conquered Europe with an ageing Puskas and Gento, and 1998, the club managed just one European Cup, for all those star coaches.

By contrast the player cult era of the 1950s produced five of those trophies while the current one, under the humble Del Bosque, has already brought another two.

Seven of Real Madrid’s incomparable nine European titles came in eras when the coach took second place to the players and was all but irrelevant. Which, of course, is as it should be.

But compare that to other clubs and their eras of greatness: the credit given to Herrera at Inter, Stein at Celtic, Michels at Ajax, Trapattoni at Juventus, Sacchi and Capello at Milan, Van Gaal at Ajax, Hitzfeld at Bayern and, of course, Ferguson at United.

Of course credit is right to be given to coaches where their own broad vision has produced an empirical advancement of their team's identity and an impact on the game as a whole. Rinus Michels, for example, did that at Ajax.

But more commonly, and certainly at Madrid, that vision is provided not by the coach but the president.

The Real Madrid culture was conceived not by any coach but by the club president Santiago Bernabeu. It was he who had the vision and the formula that could turn the club into one of sustained conquest and give it a lasting image and brand.

The Bernabeu's current equivalent, Florentino Perez, did get elected on the promise that he would bring Luis Figo to Madrid.
But since his ascension, as Valdano implied, he has taken noticeable care not to take grandstanding credit, either for the signing of Zidane and Ronaldo, or for the club's on-field successes.

If Valdano is expressing club policy, Perez does appear to have an understanding of the root of the Bernabeu concept, which turned Real Madrid into the world's most noble football entity.

When Don Revie was approached to take over as manager of Leeds United in the 1960s, he sat down with the chairman and pledged that he would turn the club into another Real Madrid and he would begin by changing the team's colours to all white.

What Revie didn't realise is that it wasn't for him to do that. A mere coach, with his mere tactics, selections and results, cannot create the kind of nobility that a brand like Real Madrid represents.

That can only be created by the underpinning principle that the club is more important than the man.

Is it not significant that, as Valdano confirmed, it was Ronaldo who was hankering to move to Real Madrid, not the other way around?

That, these days, is unheard of. That is what makes Real Madrid unique.

Buy on


The DJ
Oct 30, 2001
:D even the speediest speed reader in the world would take at least 5 minutes to get through that..and u know how lazy I


Senior Member
Dec 31, 2000
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread Starter #11
    Hold on for just one moment here... did you just reproach me for not being serious enough? :LOL:


    Senior Member
    Dec 31, 2000
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread Starter #13
    I think we have to take this one outside...

    Challenge you to a game shuffleboard? :D


    Senior Member
    Feb 18, 2001
    Real Madrid have failed to pay their first instalment to Inter for the transfer of Brazilian sensation Ronaldo.

    Nerazzurri director general Massimo Moretti broke the news today as the squad flew out for Tuesday’s Champions’ League game against Lyon.

    "It is true that Real are late with the first payment," Moretti told ‘Telelombardia’. "We will therefore be sending a letter to FIFA.

    "They are admittedly not overly late in supplying us with the initial funds, but it shows that even the big clubs have difficulties.

    "We are yet to make an official move but that will soon come."

    Ronaldo joined the Spanish giants this summer in a £30m deal after he returned from the World Cup insisting he wanted to be sold.

    Football Italia

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