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Attitude, arrogance & complacency: How it's all caught up to Real Madrid

COMMENT: Real Madrid. Has there ever been a worse week for the club? Dumped from all three competitions - and in the space of seven days. It's certainly the worst seen in either of the Florentino Perez eras...

And see it he did - and long before last night's humiliation. This morning it's Zinedine Zidane whose been identified as the first to recognise the writing on the wall. It was reason enough for the Frenchman to dramatically quit just days after winning in Kiev.

But for those inside the boardroom, particularly for Florentino, the signs of Tuesday night's disaster were known long before Zidane's resignation. Try December 2017. Try chatter amongst the directors about Zidane, himself. About a genuine fear of missing Champions League qualification. And about removing the Frenchman. This was all on the table before that Christmas. The only thing that kept Florentino from pulling the trigger was a sense of loyalty to his coach - and the fact Real were still alive in the Champions League.

But, as we say, the president could see the writing on the wall. He knew Cristiano Ronaldo, after refusing to consider new contract talks, had sent out feelers - via Jorge Mendes - to Juventus. He knew there was a growing resentment inside the locker room. He knew Zidane was struggling to manage a rift between the younger players and the more experienced ones he favoured. And he knew his coach's opinion of these young players. That they were either unready - or simply incapable - of replacing the likes of Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale and maintaining winning expectations.

In the end, the coach walked - and Florentino ignored his advice. Ronaldo's open declaration after victory over Liverpool in Ukraine the final nudge Zidane needed. The cycle was over. The silverware that had flowed in those three seasons in charge would be no more. Not with these players. And certainly not with their attitude.

And after Tuesday night, Zidane has been completely vindicated. His European champions not just eliminated from the competition, but humiliated. Conceding four goals at home. And not to a Barcelona or Manchester City. But to Ajax and their limited, modest budget.

Ajax should never be beating Real Madrid. Not at home. Nor even away. And not in today's day and age. But Tuesday at the Bernabeu has been a long time coming.

We've had the weight issues of Isco and Marcelo. There's been Marcelo and Thibaut Courtois mocking Bale in interviews. Isco challenging the authority of coach Santiago Solari. Toni Kroos picking a fight with Bernd Schuster...

But nothing epitomised how things have run this season more than Sergio Ramos, the captain, and his antics on the night. Arrogant enough to get a deliberate booking in the first-leg so to miss this game, he used the off-time to do some filming for his personal Amazon doco. The disdain for Ajax he showed with the Amsterdam yellow was one thing. To then for the return-leg organise a camera crew with the tie still alive really was the height of arrogance. You have to wonder, for all he said in that 40 minute crisis meeting before Monday's training session, what message did his actions on matchday send to his teammates?

And what of Ajax? On the pitch they were worthy winners. As they were off it. We know Frenkie de Jong has been signed by Barcelona to play as a starter. Matthijs de Ligt, winner of the Golden Boy, can pick wherever he wants to play next. And Nicolas Tagliafico, they say, is actually viewed at Real as a better left-back option than either Marcelo or Sergio Reguilon.

But also don't discount what the board of Ajax did last summer. While Florentino sat on his hands, Ajax first broke their transfer record bringing Daley Blind back from Manchester United. Then pushed the boat out again to prise Dusan Tadic away from Southampton. In relative terms, Ajax far outspent Florentino - and that ambition was rewarded on Tuesday.

The Real of season 2018/2019 have been found out. Dumped from the Copa del Rey. Eliminated from LaLiga contention. And humiliated in the Champions League. All in the space of seven days. From the attitude and arrogance of these players. To the complacency of the president. It has all caught up to them.


Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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