Real Madrid News: Top 5 Lessons Los Blancos Should Learn from Last Season
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
If Real Madrid are to succeed this coming season, there is a simple synopsis—learn from last season’s mistakes.
In some quarters, it is acknowledged that the 2012/13 campaign was one to forget for Los Blancos. Only by addressing the likes of a poor start to the campaign, ill discipline and infighting within the club can one of the world’s grandest football clubs prosper.
The following list compiles lessons to be adhered to from last season, starting with the most significant in achieving short-term success, linking through to additional factors in order to ensure a long-lasting legacy.
1: The Gaffer—Carlo Ancelotti
Carlo Ancelotti brings his wealth of experience to the Bernabeu
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
The fundamental lesson of last season saw Jose Mourinho pack his bags, with Carlo Ancelotti becoming Real Madrid's head honcho.
Despite Mourinho’s undoubted pedigree, his war against the Spanish media and opposition coaches plus internal strife, where the Telegraph reported that he lost the dressing room, ensued that the relationship between him and Los Blancos had reached the point of no return. He was shown the door and Barcelona were one of the first to send a parting shot.
Real regrettably pulled the plug on what should have been a beautiful relationship. Uniting the most sought after coach and football’s chief glamour club should in theory have marked an exciting chapter in Bernabeu history, but it was not to be.
Mercifully, Ancelotti has no history of misdemeanors and enjoys a mutual respect of his players, as reported by the Guardian.
Furthermore with Zinedine Zidane alongside the Italian, in addition to the ever-loyal Paul Clement, it would be a good footing for any club, let alone one with Real's standing in football’s history, to improve on the disappointment of 2012/13.
2: Discipline Must Improve
Fabio Coentrao was a fine example where Real's discipline requires a tune-up
Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Good discipline is a sound foundation for success, and it can also be perceived as an indication of the coach's mentality.
Last season, Real’s disciplinary record was not one to boast of, but considering the actions of Ancelotti's predecessor, the findings are hardly surprising.
The below table (sourced from Squawka) compares Real's La Liga disciplinary record against champions Barcelona and Carlo Ancelotti's Paris Saint-Germain (both Ligue 1 and La Liga have a 38-game season)
The pinnacle of the ill-discipline which swept Real was possibly the actions of Fabio Coentrao who received his marching orders despite being an unused substitute when Real lost to Getafe in August 2012.
In contrast, Barcelona won their third consecutive fair play award last season, making it five wins since the 2005/06 season. Is it a coincidence that in four of those seasons, Barca have also been crowned La Liga champions?
In analyzing Ancelotti's PSG, the numbers at first glance are alarming, with 10 red cards being a cause for concern.
However, as ESPN reported, PSG's disciplinary issues were more down to meddling from higher authorities rather than Ancelotti himself.
3: Real Should Aim for a Blistering Start in La Liga
Barca made a blistering start dropping only two points in their first 18 La Liga games
Stanley Chou/Getty Images
Last season, whilst Barcelona got out of the blocks faster than Usain Bolt, Real stuttered badly.
By the time the fourth round of La Liga fixtures had been completed, Los Blancos trailed the Catalans by eight points (12 vs 4)—with just a solitary win to their name.
Barcelona went from strength to strength as they amazingly dropped only two points in the first half of the season, amassing 55 points from a possible 57. By contrast, Real won 11 out of 18 games, meaning the then-defending champions were 20 points adrift of their bitter rivals at the halfway mark of the campaign.
Despite Real’s improvement in the second half of the season, with Barca understandably dropping the pace, Blaugrana still ran out league winners by a sizable 13 points.
4: Improve Relations with the Media
Mourinho didn't enjoy the best relationship with the Press
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
Another Mourinho trait—alienating himself from the Spanish media.
Mourinho effectively has no relationship with the Madrid-based media. He doesn't trust them and has made that distrust plain, which of course has made them distrust him. It's become a vicious circle. He hardly ever attends press conferences unless he has to. The rest of the time he sends his assistant Aitor Karanka and avoids any media contact apart from the odd TV interview back in Portugal.
Following his side's Champions League semi-final exit to Borussia Dortmund, Mourinho bluntly said "I am loved by the fans and the media [in England] who treat me in a fair way. I know in Spain it is different because many people hate me."
According to Oliver Brown in the Telegraph, his relationship with the Spanish media became unsavoury even before the end of his first season at the Bernabeu.
By comparison, Carlo Ancelotti cut a composed figure as per official Real Madrid website, admittedly before the season has even kicked off:
Overall, things are going well, we are working hard and have a good atmosphere in the squad. Right now everything is good and now we have to think about next Sunday. We are ready to go. We played well and with attacking football. Except for the match against Lyon, who were more prepared than us, we have performed well in every match.
Throughout this career, Ancelotti has seldom demonstrated the negativity which Mourinho has displayed in abundance (evident as per the above sources), which can only bode well for Real.
5: Building a Los Blancos Revolution
Ian Walton/Getty Images
The Gareth Bale will-he or wont-he transfer saga has dominated the headlines this summer, but that aside, Florentino Perez should receive a tip of the hat for what looks like the start of a Real Madrid revolution.
If you can’t beat them join them, is the old adage. By intently studying Barcelona’s La Masia blueprint, the Bernaneu club has effectively invested over €70m (sourced by transfermarkt.com) on its future.
Asier Illarramendi, Isco and Daniel Carvajal have been purchased for a combined fee of €66.5m, despite only having one senior Spanish cap amongst the three of them. However, all three were all integral part of Spain’s successful Under-21 side which won the 2013 European Championships.
In stark contrast to Mourinho's approach with bringing youngsters through, Ancelotti has already given the youngsters game time during preseason.
The Real Madrid official website reported that Ancelotti was very happy with his youngsters' efforts in the preseason friendly against Internazionale.
They were all fantastic and showed a very good attitude. Carvajal was very good, as was Casemiro. To start with, I am very happy with the squad that I have. Why should we talk about Bale today if Morata and Jese have played very well? I am very happy for them; they are very young but have incredible skill.
If Real successfully integrate their youngsters into a prosperous Real Madrid side, then there is every chance that they will create a legacy for years to come.