As Real Madrid’s 2010-2011 campaign draws to a close, madridistas should take a step back to calmly reflect on the year as a whole: from the tepid opening, a 0-0 draw at Mallorca, to the Clásico “rally” at the end of the year, this team has evolved, both in its personnel and in its offensive and defensive philosophy.
There have been steady changes and regressions, positive and negative steps in the team’s formation throughout the year; as the personnel shifted, new players stepped up and old player stepped back in—these are the normal changes of a football team over time. Some good, some bad.
Overall, the campaign has left a rather sweet-and-sour, agridulce as they’d say on the Castellana, taste in most madridista’s mouths: from the glory of the Copa del Rey victory to the agony of the Champions League semifinal, and the disgusting drubbing in the Nou Camp, this year has been oddly mediocre. In past years, a season like this would buy the coach another year to flesh out his project.
This article isn’t to debate the validity of Mourinho as a coach, however: I’m in favor of his managerial philosophy, his style, and his personality. While I understand some people find him grating—he is aggravating—I genuinely believe in his project, and also know that he puts on this mask of talk as a mechanism of alleviating the crushing pressure on his players. He will get (and will want) at least another season with Madrid, I’m sure of it (if only to beat Barcelona a few times).
So instead of Mourinho-bashing, let’s look at some of Madrid’s weaknesses during the year, and try to figure out what players on the transfer market might be able to help los blancos dial it up a level next year.