james debate
james debate

Monday 15 June 2009

A few short years ago we witnessed the end of an era. Florentino Pérez, business man and former politician, championed the strategy of spending vast fees to bring the best players in the world to Real Madrid, creating a 'dream team', the Galácticos.

In doing so he brought the club a level of glamor and commercial success never before seen in football, and with some initial success and silverware on the pitch. But then came many barren years, as people started to realize that spending millions and millions on endless attacking players left their defense, populated entirely with youth products, somewhat vulnerable and unable to compete in Europe, and eventually even the Spanish league. Pérez resigned his position in disgrace, and so with him died the Galáctico era.

However football has a funny sense of irony. Just as Harry Redknapp quit Portsmouth to join arch rivals Portsmouth, and then shockingly moved in the exact opposite direction just a few years later, Florentino Pérez's departure was not permanent.

You see, at first everyone was excited about the death of the Galácticos. Sure it brought a lot of publicity and sponsorship money, but by the end of the era it had brought them very little success and turned them into one of football's biggest jokes. Everyone expected the new era to be much more fruitful, and indeed it looked that way when they brought in genius manager Fabio Capello, who invested heavily in defense and midfield strength and won the league.

But in the wake of this success Real Madrid did a complete 180, sacked Capello, and since then they've found that the lack of Galácticos had not made them a better team, and they had less money to show for it. Now they've even brought Pérez back in to usher in the New Age of the Galácticos. And in just one week they've indicated that indeed the old days are back, spending 150 million pounds on just two players, Kaka and Ronaldo, you may have heard of them.

Clearly these developments could have massive implications on the game. Not just in terms of the Spanish league which has been dominated by Barcelona lately, but in terms of world football as a whole.

Let's face it, it's no secret that English football has been dominant these last few years, of the 8 Champions League semi finalists in the last 2 years, 6 have been English teams, and the other 2 were both Barcelona. And even though Barcelona won the competition this year, very few people have the gall to claim that it should have been anything other than an all english final for the second year in a row, and that is a BIG statement on the state of world football right now.

But oh how things will change now. The entire reason English football is as strong as it is right now, no matter how many idiots want to pretend otherwise, is because of Roman Abramovich and the spending he brought to the league. Since then every other team in the league has had to step up their game, and brought equally impressive funding to the table to make the English league, simply far wealthier than the rest, and packed full of the best talent in the world.

But now, a new Galáctico era will mean some of that talent goes to Spain instead. And indeed, in Kaka, Messi and now Ronaldo, the Spanish league has the three best players in the world right now, and with that, the balance of European football is shifting.

The question then, is whether or not Madrid have learned from the mistakes of the old Galáctico regime, and on current evidence, signing the biggest attacking players in the world, you have to say so far it doesn't look like they have. Of course if they go out now and spend 50 mill on Fabregas, then we might have something, but until that happens, colour me highly skeptical about the long term viability of this project.

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