For the past eight years, RM has enjoyed tremendous success. But in football success always comes in cycles, and a cycle of dominance in football usually lasts five years maximum. Even Pep Guardiola’s great Barcelona team did not last that long, it’s dominance of world football ended before the five year cycle.
Barcelona’s cycle of dominance started in 2009 and ended in 2012 under Pep Guardiola, lasting approximately three years. Pep left Barca in 2012 which coincided with the rise of RM under Jose Mourinho, who would lay the foundation for RM’s future successes. But that story is not important for now; we all know the history concerning that.
What I’m focusing on is the Cycles. It’s absolutely important for club management to know when a club is about to reach the end of its cycle. This must be identified a couple years in advanced because it requires future planning, which requires TIME.
We live in an age today where PATIENCE is a very rare virtue; no one wants to wait anymore for anything. Everything is usually done in haste without proper thought processing. To plan for the future, you need to give yourself TIME. Planning for the future is never to be done in haste, because there will always be mistakes, and costly ones at that.
So being able to identify the end of a cycle becomes very important for club management. But the catch in that is this; a cycle of dominance usually reaps many rewards both on and off the field. It’s usually a time when there aren’t many alarm bells ringing because everything seems to be going quite well. Club management is happy and the fans are happy, so the home is happy, they are living in good times.
But football is in cycles. And depending on the period of success in which the club is enjoying, club management is often tempted to try and prolong a period that has an expiry date attached to it. So this is where the problem begins.
Come on let’s be realistic, who wants to change a winning team when they are winning? As long as RM had Bale, Benzema & CR7 they were not too worried as to what might be. And Four Champion’s League titles in five years made them even more relaxed. Then RM became “BBC” dependent.
When Xavi Alonso was asked to describe his role as a midfielder in RM when the BBC was at their best, he responded by saying that his job was to get the ball to the front three and they did the rest. That sums up RM’s current problems. I’ll show you why.
The combination of the BBC started in 2013/14, the season of La Decima. From 2013 to 2018 it lasted, which is 5 Years; a cycle of dominance. Within those five years, RM won four Champions League titles, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018. Barca won it in 2015. They won one league Title in 2017.
During those five years, RM only knew how to play ONE way, which is to get the ball to the front three and they basically did the rest. That method worked because that team had awesome offensive ability, they could turn an entire match in five minutes by scoring three goals. This was the sole reason why they won so many Champions League titles. The Champions League is a knockout competition, and in order to be successful in it, you need to score goals and RM had lots of it.
But this tactical method didn’t produce many league titles because to win a league title, it requires more than just goals. Zidane proved this in his second stint as head coach; he won a league title with the lowest scoring RM side ever, boasting also the best defensive record ever in RM’s history.
During RM’s five years of BBC, they would often drop points against smaller teams that sat back and defended deeply. The reason for that is they never really developed a system of breaking teams down; they simply fed the ball to the forwards and hope that they did the rest. But how can you blame them for that way of thinking if the front three supplies more than 100 goals per season? You couldn’t blame them for thinking like that.
But it did affect them in the long term. I will explain why. This current batch of RM players who were part of that period of success, they have played one particular way for the last eight years and never really developed a system of playing.
SO WHEN THE BBC BECAME DISMANTLED, THE GOALS DRIED UP ALSO. THEY WERE TRYING TO PLAY THE SAME WAY, BUT WITHOUT THE BBC. SO THEIR OFFENCE BECAME VERY FLAT AND PREDICTABLE.
They want Benzema alone to do what a front three had been doing for the past five years. THAT WON’T WORK. The only place that RM is generating goals, is from Benzema, the other forwards aren’t scoring and that’s because it does not have a system in place to create that. So we have very excellent players appearing ordinary and dull. But why? Aren’t they good forwards? Of course they are. Does this mean we have to get better forwards? No, it doesn’t mean that at all. We can still end up in the same problem with seemingly better forwards.
IT MEANS WE HAVE TO CHANGE THE SYSTEM OF PLAYING WHICH ALLOWS THE FORWARDS TO CONTRIBUTE MORE GOALS, SHARING THE RESPONSIBILITY OF SCORING EVENLY AMONG THEM.
Here’s what Anceloti had to say on his return:
“Signing a superstar striker who scores 30 goals a season WON’T SOLVE THE GOALSCORING PROBLEM. TO SCORE GOALS YOU NEED A SYSTEM. A TACTICAL SYSTEM that helps everyone in the team to score goals.”
He is ABSOLUTELY right. But easily said than done because this current crop of players which has reached the end of a cycle have only played one particular way for the past eight years. Can they change the way they play now? Maybe, we’ll have to wait and see. The first positive for RM is that the head coach knows what the problem is, and he is trying to rectify it. The only thing that he doesn’t have is TIME, BUT HE HAS THE TOOLS TO WORK WITH.
This season is a transition season, but the reality is; the entire squad needs to be revamped. RM cycle, which started in 2012, has ended since 2018 when CR7 left. That key piece to their jigsaw puzzle was lost, so the picture couldn’t be completed when he left because a key piece was missing. They needed to change their approach; they needed to change the system because the key component to that system was lost.
But they have prolonged the time-schedule of change. And change is more favorable when it’s done gradually. You cannot change an entire squad in one campaign; that is something that must be done gradually over a period of planning and execution of planning.
RM has delayed that planning and is now two years behind time schedule. What made things trickier is no one expected the pandemic, it caught everyone unawares. It caught RM in the middle of transition; trying to build a new stadium and also trying to restructure an ageing team. No one expected this, no one planned for this. No one can really be blamed for this. The pandemic affected everyone. No one was planning with a pandemic in mind. Life can be like that at times, sometimes we have to face things that we’ve never planned for.
But there is hope, all is not lost. RM had to go into emergency planning which most clubs had to do. They’ve tried for a Super League, but the footballing world was not ready to accept it. The stadium will be finished in 2023, but that depends on the state of the pandemic and the fans being able to attend. No one knows what direction the pandemic will take.
But RM are very fortunate to have a very competitive team at their disposal which will allow them to compete on all fronts. Talent and Ability is not RM’s problem, it’s their Attitude and Belief in themselves. They have the talent and the ability which is unquestionable, now they need a system to be implemented where that talent and ability can become effective, and that part is Anceloti’s job.
They have a reputable fitness trainer in Pintus which can solve their fitness and injury concerns. Once that problem is solved, RM WILL have a great season without doubt. WHAT THEY NEED IS FOR THEIR FANS TO BELIEVE IN THEM, TO GET BEHIND THEM AND TO SUPPORT THEM. That is what will fuel them. They don’t need criticism, they need encouragement, they need belief, they are human too.
RM had been through their Spring Time season, now it’s their cold dark winter, but if they stick together, they will come out of it just fine. Every family have their difficult moments, now is RM’s time. But there’s no need for them to fear because they have what it takes to endure to the end. They’ll have a Great Season.
This article “Revealed — the 4 players Carlo Ancelotti reportedly told Florentino Perez not to sell” originally appeared on tribuna.com