The 13/14 season had been a huge success for Real Madrid to say the least but as fickle as it may sound, Cristiano Ronaldo and company soon found themselves ending the next season trophy-less and at the mercy of their bitter arch-rivals, FC Barcelona.
Furthermore, with the unceremonious firing of player and fan favourite Carlo Ancelotti, the Bernabeau is now an inferno of agitated fans and most fingers point to their outspoken president, Florentino Perez, with many calling for an immediate replacement.
This new flood of accusations against the Spanish multi-millionaire leads us back to the one critical question - Is he the man for the job? We look back at some of the reckless decisions that landed in hot water.
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The shocking departures of two of Madrid’s finest, Angel Di Maria and Xabi Alonso in 2014 left reigning European champions in wild disarray. Despite boasting a star-laden squad and one of the most expensive ever assembled, the Spanish champions got off to a shaky start to their 2014-15 campaign.
After losing twice to cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid at the start to their campaign, followed by back-to-back defeats in La Liga, it was a bumpy road for the La Decima winners before ending the season trophy-less. Buoyed by the triumphs of the year before, the high-spirited fans demanded big results from Ancelotti’s men.
However, to their utter disappointment, things didn't turn out to be so wonderful after all. The Los Blancos kick-started their title defence by surrendering the Spanish Super-Cup to derby rivals Atletico, a result which brought the wrath of the Bernabeu faithful upon Florentino Perez’s transfer policy.
Though some disillusioned Madrid supporters may still be wondering how such a debacle had been allowed to happen, many already knew that it all went down to the highly unanticipated departures of two men who had carried the club on their shoulders for so long – Angel Di Maria and Xabi Alonso.
The pleas and rigorous campaigns conducted against the departures of Di Maria and Alonso fell on Perez’s deaf ears. Instead, in a bid to convince the disappointed Madrid supporters that the club has indeed taken the right choice, Real boss Carlo Ancelotti went on to declare that the reassuring presence of Di Maria was no longer required among the Madrid ranks. Soon after, they came to realise that he was, in fact, dreadfully mistaken.
Though, initially, Perez did not seem to apprehend the gravity of the situation at hand, he soon came to realise that these unwelcome departures had indeed left a huge void in Madrid’s midfield, a prime factor owing to last season's trophy drought that left the club's prestige in shambles.
Instead of giving two of Madrid’s biggest stars a reason to stay, the 57-year-old opted to spend millions on new talents in the hope of shirt sales and club profits. In fact, when a money-obsessed businessman like Florentino Perez with no footballing background whatsoever is in charge of a soccer club with the pedigree of Real Madrid, things like this are often expected.
However this was a relatively "mild" blow to the business magnate's notorious reputation in the light of what came soon after.
ESPN Espana made headlines last year by pointing out that Perez’s own personal motives were behind the big money signings of James Rodriguez and Chicharito Hernandez. The sports agency’s branch in Spain says that on September 18, 2014, the Madrid president’s construction company, the ACS sealed a deal worth €432 million in Tula, Mexico, only weeks after Chicharito’s unexpected move to the Spanish capital.
It was an issue quite similar with the signing of Colombian wonder-kid, James Rodriguez. ESPN has also claimed that in June, Perez’s company entered Colombia to negotiate a 25-year deal to build the mega highway named ‘Conexion Pacifico’, the contract for which was completed only last week. Coincidences you say? A wise man wouldn't bet on that.
Some skeptics have even taken Chicharito's unceremonious departure from Real Madrid this season as confirmation that this signing was truly down to nothing greater than his own selfish motives.
Many of football’s big names hit out at the Florentino Perez following his unpopular transfer frenzy; including the former Madrid president, Roman Calderon. In fact, the great Cristiano Ronaldo himself did not seem too happy with Florentino’s transfer dealings recently
after the unfortunate parting from his good friend Angel Di Maria and previously Mesut Ozil.
Though it is understandable that Florentino Perez has brought in two of the World Cup’s biggest stars that summer, (Kroos and Rodriguez)- both of whom had proven themselves last season, it is no secret that they were not lacking in quality but rather the stability that were so well provided for by Di Maria and Alonso - a void that they are still finding difficult to fill.
That season's unpopular flurry of transfer activity ultimately proved to be a costly failure for the "whites" as Real Madrid closed their 14/15 account with not a silverware to show for it. Some may have thought that if anything, Perez had learned his lesson- but they, in fact, were in for a huge awakening.
Right after their disappointing season, Florentino settled down to remove coach Carlo Ancelotti from the helm much to the dismay of Cristiano Ronaldo and almost every other member of the club. An even more absurd part of that deal was to replace him with Napoli coach Rafa Benitez, the bloke that no-one could really consider for a job as important as this.
Carlo's proficiency as a coach was well known across Europe and during his time as Real Madrid, he had made himself a favourite of the Bernabeu faithful. However, despite all odds Perez, decided yet again, to play the reckless businessman and take the wild bargain, even though it meant he was going against the everyone’s wishes.
First Ozil, then Di Maria and now Ancelotti, Florentino's reckless decisions has landed him at the receiving end of criticism time and time again, but perhaps the grandest mistake of all was the pitiful departure of club legend and captain, Iker Casillas. Earlier this season Real announced that the Spanish goalkeeper is leaving the club after 16 seasons at in Madrid.
Even though the club published a glowing homage to Casillas on their website, calling him "the greatest goalkeeper in the history of the club", nothing was done to compliment that hollow statement.
While his fellow Spaniard Xavi Hernandez was given a grand farewell by rivals Barcelona, Casillas said his goodbyes at a hastily held press conference attended mostly by journalists and a few members of the club. In retaliation, his parents had claimed that it was, in fact Florentino who forced the Spain no .1 to leave the club.
"Iker has put up with a great deal, he has suffered psychological pressure and they treated him differently to other players. I have watched him suffer for many years. It is Florentino who is pushing him out because he wanted to end his career at Real Madrid."
The timing couldn't have been worse for Perez. Having finished last season without a trophy, criticisms were already abound in Madrid, but now, with the sacking of Ancelotti and the shameful Casillas saga, the floodgates had just been opened. Questions are now being asked, pressure being mounted upon and Perez will be glad that the presidential elections are in Barcelona rather than in the capital.
In the last election, Perez was voted in unopposed in 2013 and there seemed to have been a suspiciously, behind-the-door conspiracy that had taken place. A few months later, it emerged, that a year earlier Perez had tweaked the rules regarding the elections so that they now suit him rather well.
Despite his tyrannical plans to transform the club presidency into a outright dictatorship, his days at the club's helm are soon coming to an end, particularly if he continues to act against the fans' wishes and continues his dim-witted reckless behavior akin to what we witnessed over the subsequent months.
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