Today, Florentino Perez fired Carlo Ancelotti. Everybody agrees that’s awful.
That no one is surprised may be an even bigger issue.
In one calendar year, the 55-year-old Italian manager went from Champions League winner to the 12th man fired by Perez over a 12 year span. That group includes Jose Mourinho, Manuel Pellegrini, Fabio Capello, and Bernd Schuster. That list also includes a whopping seven managers who didn’t last a calendar year. Something is clearly wrong.
It is possible to discuss the player recruitment strengths Of Florentino Perez. It is also very possible to discuss the shortcomings of his ability to run a stable club. I just did that in the last paragraph. But it’s also shockingly easy to illustrate how historically bad this firing is.
Jose Mourinho had just been sacked (that’s also a doozy of a decision), and his three-year tenure seems like an eternity under Perez. So the man with a plan snags Ancelotti from Paris Saint-Germain, which right there screams stability (I need a sarcasm font).
Ancelotti’s job seemed simple: take a Jose Mourinho squad that won three trophies and don’t screw it up. Easy, right? Well, nothing is easy with Florentino Perez. He decided to shake things up by completely overhauling the squad, because three straight Champions League semifinals isn’t good enough. Gone are Gonzalo Higuain, Raul Albiol, Jose Callejon, and the most disappointing of all, Mesut Ozil. In comes Isco, Asier Illarramendi, Dani Carvajal, and the $110 million man Gareth Bale, plus a host of youth team players including Jese and Alvaro Morata.
But Ancelotti took all the player turnover and performed admirably. He won the Copa del Rey by knocking over Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, and brought the club its 10th European championship and first in 12 years.
Last season, there were no trophies. That tends to happen when your direct competition ends up with Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez. And yet, Carlo Ancelotti’s two seasons at Real Madrid ended with an 89-14-15 record – the second-best win percentage of any Real Madrid manager ever and the best of any manager that lasted longer than a calendar year. He won more trophies than anyone since Vicente del Bosque – ironically the first manager Florentino Perez let go in 2003.
The circus continues. The only thing that matters to Perez is a full trophy case. He lusts for silverware as a werewolf lusts for blood; the turnover he requires is an uncontrollable, insatiable appetite that must be fed. One that unfortunately supercedes the need for long-term stability. No one painted that picture better than AS journalist Artiz Gabilondo: “The problem at Real Madrid is that Florentino Perez calls for ‘maximum demands’ of players and coaches, but never of himself.”
The problem at Real Madrid isn’t Carlo Ancelotti. Trophy-less seasons will happen, especially in one of the most top-heavy leagues in the world where the direct competition is some of the best in the world, and the outside competition provides little threat to your best opponents.
The players supported Ancelotti. The fans supported Ancelotti. But Perez didn’t, so he goes. As long as the buck continues to stop with the managers and not the president, Real Madrid will never escape the maelstrom of instability and change that continues to handicap the glitzy, world-class squad it repeatedly displays onto the Bernabeu pitch.