Friday, October 12, 2007
Top of the League...god they suck
Despite being on top of La Liga and second in their group in Champions League, Madrid fans and the Spanish media are unhappy with the team. Why is this so? Because when Real president Ramon Calderon fired Fabio Capello he promised that his new coach would deliver victory and style. So far, the team has delivered on half of those promises. Yes they have been winning but these victories are almost exactly the same as Capello's boys were getting last year. In fact, after their 1-0 win against Getafe earlier this season, their new coach, Bernd Schuster, credited their strong defense for the victory, definitely not what Calderon wanted to hear.
So what exactly has caused this group of talented players to become such an unexciting bunch? Many are blaming Schuster's constant tinkering with the squad. Critics are claiming that Schuster is rotating players too much and therefore the squad can't seem to hit their offensive stride. Schuster defends himself by saying that he has a deep squad and that he wants everyone to get minutes. While this is a good problem to have it's still a problem and the fans are getting more and more irritated. This is worsened by the fact that the team got off to a great start by beating Atletico Madrid with style and then trashing Villareal while looking like Arsenal in the process. Not surprisingly, the team had the same starting 11 in both those games. To be fair, Madrid seem seriously interested in winning all three of their major competitions (Liga, Champions, Copa Del Rey) and in order to do so a team needs to have many quality players. However some sense of cohesion is needed to make a team work. Players need to play together in order to adjust to one another and develop as a team. This is especially true when a team is made up mostly of players who have not played together before.
Personally I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle. The same 11, game in game out won't work because of injuries and fatigue. Constant rotations won't work either due to lack of team chemistry. What I think is the best solution is for Schuster to figure out his best 11 and make that his core squad. Once that is set then he can make rotations and substitutions based on that 11. When someone in the core needs a day off, rotate someone else for that individual position while maintaining the rest of that core squad intact. The fact that this team was put together at the last minute, looks to be a big reason as to why Schuster doesn't seem to know what his best team is. For example, Robben not only came late but came hurt so no one has seen his true ability yet. Because of this, it could take a few more weeks before Schuster and his staff truly have a sense of where all the players lie in the squad.
This is basically the same situation Rafa Benitez finds himself in Liverpool. However, they haven't been getting the results that Madrid has been getting and Reds' fans are already beginning to question Rafa's future for the team. As impatient as Madrid fans are I fear for Schuster if the results stop.