Real Madrid wrapped up 2015 in somewhat fitting style to reflect how the year transpired. The team did manage to get past Real Sociedad in the end but conceded another goal with some sloppy defensive work. There were chances aplenty but a few of them weren’t taken but most worrying in the game and in the latter stages of the year has been the defensive concerns – in stark contrast to how the season began.
If one were to summarise Real’s 2015 in one word, the term would be ‘shambolic’. The club were shambolic on and off the pitch.
As mentioned already, the 2015/16 season started with much promise in our defensive abilities but that wall collapsed woefully to show the early part of the year. At one stage, Keylor Navas was setting records of clean sheets but then everything went downhill. Not helping the team’s cause was poor attacking display, no fluidity in movement and lack of link up play between midfield and attack as was made woefully clear in the embarrassing 0-4 loss to Barcelona – the biggest since 2009.
On the pitch, there were multiple lows in the past 12 months: recent loss to Barça; having our 22-game winning streak snapped in the very first game of the year; 4-0 loss at Vicente Calderon. But the worst has to be the month of May where we drew 2-2 to Valencia and effectively let the title slip from our fingers. Add to that, the late goal conceded against Juventus to crash out of the Champions League in the semi-finals.
OFF THE PITCH
But, in my opinion, the abysmal nature of the club and lack of professionalism in off the pitch antics would be the biggest takeaway from 2015. For one of the biggest sporting entities in the world and a club that has handled many large-scale hurdles in the past, the last twelve months have shown the opposite.
Three incidents have stood out that reflect badly for the club and the board: a) Carlo Ancelotti getting sacked without any proper reasoning; b) David de Gea and Navas (swap?) deal and c) exit from Copa del Rey to Cadiz.
Point A: You could argue that Ancelotti failed to get a single trophy in the season and that the challenge put up against Barcelona and Atletico Madrid was poor. But in sharp contrast, he won la Decima in first season in charge, won more trophies than previous managers did and they enjoyed more patience than Carlo did (yes take the hint). The squad seemed to have a good relationship with the Italian and the coaching staff. The media headlines were less controversial in nature than they had been thanks to his mellow approach. But the fact that president Florentino Perez said, “I don’t know” to why Ancelotti was sacked speaks volumes about lack of patience and well, logic.
Point B: For a club that has boasted of handling many most expensive transfers in football, or any sport for that matter, was found wanting in its disappointing management of the David de Gea transfer. Sure there are points and counter points by Real Madrid and Manchester United but the fact is Real wanted the young Spaniard, were willing to pay for him but lacked the conviction or clear decision-making in the end. In the process, the club hurt its relationship with Navas too. The Costa Rican may still be at the club and still doing his utmost best to keep the ball from going into the back of the net but you don’t form love affairs with players with such disrespectful behaviour and management. He would wear the shirt, but he won’t wear it with pride after this.
Point C: And now to the latest silliness from the board. Denis Cheryshev played, scored and was withdrawn early on without any injury concern or tactical changes needed. Why? Because the Russian was not supposed to be playing in the first place. He had accumulated cautions while playing for Villarreal last season and had been ruled out for the first match. Therefore, Cadiz who had lost 1-3 had now progressed by virtue of Blancos’ mistake. But clearly no one at the club - the management, the staff or the coaching team looked into it. There are claims that the player was told and there have been challenges by the club to get the decision overturned which is wishful thinking and face-saving technique more than an actual recourse to get fair treatment.
To finish up, Real Madrid’s 2015 wasn’t what the fans would have liked. There were no trophies, the display wasn’t the greatest and off field controversies continued. Hope 2016 changes all that for the better!