From Galacticos to Chumps: The Decline of Real Madrid, 2003-Present

Matthew MaloneyCorrespondent IMarch 13, 2009

Name the galactico missing from the above photo. 

Think they're all there? Well, think again my friend.

Here's a clue: what happens when you remove the engine from a Bentley? Nothing, stupid! At least that's what Zidane thought about his, at the time, France and Real Madrid teammate, Claude Makelele.

The ridiculous decision not to grant Makelele a meager pay rise (especially in relation to what the so called galacticos of the team were earning at the time compared to him) by Florentino Perez may just be about one of the worst footballing decision ever made by a chairman in modern footballing history.

I'm not joking. To buy and then play David Beckham in defensive midfield as a result hoping the extra tee-shirt sales would make up for it is simply comical, retarded even.

While Makelele went on to win two well-earned premier leagues among other titles and honours with Chelsea (whom Martin Jol famously pointed out had built their team around said player), and even—[shock, horror]—managed to score a goal (penalties count too y'know).

Real Madrid, on the other hand, entered into a rapid decline on the pitch eventually leading to the end of Perez himself after winning nothing and playing poorly for three years (yes, even with David Beckham in the team girls). Was one player really that important to the balance of the team that it fell apart? Not quite.

Today's Spanish national team coach is none other than the respected and madly successful former Real Madrid coach Vicente Del Bosque.

The Spanish federation's sporting director is Real Madrid's former club captain and club legend Fernando Hierro, a man who possessed a 1:4 goal a centre half and defensive midfielder (that stat is correct; look it up), won five La Liga titles and three Champions League titles. Why aren't they currently performing those exact roles for Real Madrid?

After Del Bosque and Hierro led Madrid to yet another league title in 2003, not to mention a thrilling performance in the Champions League that season (going out in the semi-finals but after memorably defeating English champions Manchester United in my favourite  European tie of all time in the quarters) both were unceremoniously dumped by the club in an appalling and shockingly disrespectful manner. Once again I must add, this was solely Perez's call.

And so in came cowboy Calderon with promises of renewed glory, titles and of course Ricardo Kaka. My own personal view is that Capello's title victory on a head to head against Barcelona is an aberration and cannot be truly said to be noteworthy other than for the effect the fans had in helping Cappello do his job properly by booing Emerson onto the bench in favour of the more attack minded Guti and thus helping the team win the title where it most certainly would have been lost.

Cappello was sacked for his nefarious desire to play Emerson and Diarra together (the nightmares are coming back now...) and replaced by Schuster who again won the league by default when it became clear Barcelona, Valencia and Sevilla were themselves coming to the end of their respective cycles.

Progress in the champions league was minimal as Real went out to Lyon and AS Roma respectively, in fact since the pre-David Beckham era or what I would personally dub the Makelele-Del Bosque era. Real Madrid had finally attained the European status of chumps from the hallowed levels of adoration of galacticos. That was quite a feat.

And so as the nightmare continues, will Perez sign Brad Pitt? Will Zidane be returning to replace the Ryman's League standard Fernando Gago in the team? How will Raul form a partnership with Jennifer Aniston up front? The list goes on and sadly there seems to be no end to the madness.

I once said that Real Madrid were a club run by monkeys to a friend many years ago after watching Arsenal beat Real Madrid...I live in hope they prove me wrong one day.