‘You have to be a chameleon in Madrid’

Arrigo Sacchi suggests the demand for big names is what has led to Real Madrid winning fewer trophies than their domestic rivals in the last six years.

Sacchi spent time at Santiago Bernabeu as the club’s director of football in 2004 and 2005 and in an interview with AS, has reflected on Los Blancos’ current situation.

“I saw them against Real Betis. They were good. Look, they have a lot of good players. The difficult thing is making them play together, the collective. That’s the problem,” the legendary Italian trainer claimed.

“The other day I read in the Gazzetta dello Sport an article that said since 2009, Madrid have won fewer trophies than Barcelona, Atletico and Sevilla.

“I don’t know why that happens…the players Madrid have are good, sure. I think Florentino Perez always signs the best, the most famous players. And then they don’t win.

“Barcelona went on a different path to Madrid. With Pep Guardiola, eight of the XI were from the cantera. They knew the game, they’d played the game. I say that as an abstract quality. They’d taken on the concepts since they were children.

“They had an entire youth system working with the system they’d find in the first team. The style of play is leading the project. Now, I wouldn’t say Florentino is wrong, because, in reality, signing the best players in the world is what the fans request.”

Rafa Benitez replaced Carlo Ancelotti as Madrid Coach over the summer but Sacchi insists the former trainer was the right man for the job, but Perez had grown unhappy with him.

“You have to have a great capacity to adapt to coach Madrid, you have to be a chameleon. The players you have aren’t always complementary to each other,” Sacchi acknowledged.

“Ancelotti is the best under these circumstances. I don’t think Pep Guardiola could do this in Madrid. Or maybe he could.

“It’s not easy to make a team from the Madrid players. Not only in terms of their character and the people, but the way they play. When I was there, the psychological aspect was very important.

“I can’t say if Benitez has changed things after seeing one game. The system isn’t as important as the style. You can be 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1. The key is playing in harmony. Why have Sevilla won more trophies than Madrid since Florentino returned?

“I don’t know…if Florentino signs the best players, what’s missing? In my book I say among the most important things is the club. Madrid are the biggest club in the world. Then there’s the strategy, the need to realise a dream. Madrid have that too.

“Third is the objectives you wish to accomplish and you have to sign the players for the game the Coach has in his head.

“I always see the Coach as a director or a conductor. The actors aren’t the most important part. Communication between the President and the Coach is important. Does Florentino always listen? I wouldn’t say that…”

Sacchi also revealed Perez had planned to replace Ancelotti long before the end of the season and feels Benitez is a good choice.

“I wasn’t surprised by the change. I spoke to Florentino before the game against Juventus and he wasn’t totally satisfied,” Sacchi confirmed.

“You’d have to ask him why not. We only had five minutes…I think Benitez is an excellent Coach for Madrid, who have had some very good Coaches lately. Different, but high quality.”

Sacchi touched on the signing of Mateo Kovacic, an operation completed late in the transfer window, and rates the former Inter midfielder, but suggested he’s not quite what Madrid needed.

“He’s like the others! They’re all the same. He’s very good, as is Isco, James Rodriguez, Luka Modric…He’s a good guy. I wish him well, but Madrid have many very similar players.”

Tags Arrigo Sacchi Florentino Perez
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