Real Madrid’s easy victory over limp Getafe on Saturday afternoon did little to dispel the general feeling that the walls are starting to close in, not just on manager Rafa Benitez, but also president Florentino Perez.
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Benitez, harshly, has been a dead man walking ever since he first stepped through the Bernabeu’s entrance gate this summer.
Nobody wanted him to be appointed in the first place, and at a club where the supporters and players are so tough and demanding, recovering from such an unpromising start is close to impossible.
It has been notable, though, just how much of the unrest has been centred not on the manager, but upon the man ultimately responsible for running the club: Perez.
The long-serving president has been the focus of protests for the last two games at the Bernabeu, with the Clasico defeat against Barcelona and Saturday’s win over Getafe both witnessing the increasingly popular refrain: ‘Florentino, dimision’ – Florentino, resign.
This week’s expulsion from the Copa del Rey could prove to be a tipping point, because the embarrassment of the wealthiest sporting organisation in the world being eliminated from a major tournament due to an administrative error will be hard to live down.
Of course, Perez was not directly responsible for the mistake which led to Denis Cheryshev being named in the starting XI for Wednesday’s trip to Cadiz (nor was manager Benitez, whose job is to work with the players made available to him).
The fault, if individuals have to be pinpointed, probably lies with Cheryshev himself and with an anonymous member of the club’s secretarial staff whose duties involve keeping abreast of the disciplinary status of each player. But placing personal blame is not the point here.
Rather than individuals, the chief fault is structural, with the organisational tasks of the club not being carried out adequately. And for this, as president, Perez is ultimately responsible.
BREAKING NEWS! Florentino Perez has fired the club’s fax machine over De Gea affair&failing to inform him about suspension of DenisCheryshev
— Ray Hudson (@RayHudson) December 3, 2015
More importantly, this is not the first time Madrid have shown themselves to be administratively incompetent. There was the bungled attempt to sign David de Gea, which fell apart at the last minute due to Los Blancos’ failure to complete the necessary paperwork.
Another error came with the departure of legendary former captain Iker Casillas, who was allowed to attend his farewell press conference without any members of the club’s hierarchy in attendance.
After a furore, another ‘event’ was held a day later with Perez turning up, as he should have been in the first place. And few Madrid fans have forgotten the shambles of Carlo Ancelotti’s sacking, when Perez answered the question of why the popular Italian had been axed by shrugging his shoulders and muttering: “I don’t know…”
So many mistakes and misjudgments in such a short space of time cannot just be coincidence, and together they point towards the startling realisation that Real Madrid – the mighty Real Madrid – are in many ways a badly run club.
The club’s members are not stupid, and they are reaching this conclusion in increasing numbers. Ultimately the buck has to stop with the leader, and Perez cannot continue to credibly blame everyone else for his club’s problems.
This might not yet be the end of his reign, but his descent down the slippery slope is starting to appear irreversible.
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