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Exciting, chaotic, this is Real Madrid

EDITORIAL: He's become an after-thought in Florentino's revolution. Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Zinedine Zidane, Emiliano Butragueno ... on and off the field, Florentino Perez has brought the big time back to Real Madrid. The names and the incredible spending have attracted scorn from Barcelona, where president Joan Laporta is becoming more and more resentful over how Perez has stolen the Treble winners' thunder this summer.

And there will be no let up, with Perez determined to prise Franck Ribery away from Bayern Munich and also challenging UEFA over the current format of the Champions League. The old man is back and Laporta and his board will have to do something very special to knock Real off the front pages of Spain's massive sports newspapers.

But for all the drama, we still haven't mentioned the most important man in all this. He's been sunning himself in Santiago for the past week, watching developments at Madrid from afar.

For Manuel Pellegrini, there was no glamourous signing ceremony and no 50,000 fans at the Santiago Bernabeu. But it is the Chilean, more than any other of Real's new arrivals, who holds the club's success next season in his hands.

No matter what happens, the fans will buy the shirts and the banks will keep the club afloat. But Florentino, more than anyone, knows when people look back at his second time in charge, it will be the trophies and not the hype, which will mark his place in Real's history.

And this is where his selection of Pellegrini is so critical.

Whether Kaka and Ronaldo can play in the same team, will be down to the Chilean. Whether the massive wages of the two glamour signings are accepted by the likes of Raul and Iker Casillas, will be down to the coach. Whether Ronaldo, with so much expectation on his shoulders, manages to avoid an early season slip, will be down to Pellegrini's handling.

All three issues mentioned are massive question marks hanging over the start of Real's new season. And if that wasn't enough, Pellegrini will also face a boot room that makes Liverpool's ex-players brigade look like shrinking violets.

Zidane? Butragueno? They won't be outspoken should Real's season start slowly, but the calls from their supporters within the Madrid press will grow louder with every point dropped. The shadow of Zidane, particularly, will loom larger if Pellegrini's methods fail to catch fire. The French legend insists he's not ready for a coaching job and is only at Real to learn the ropes of administration, but the speculation will grow if the start is shaky.

And then you have the legend, Alfredo di Stefano. Always supportive, particularly of the club's young players. Again, his huge profile will become an issue for Pellegrini given the new Galacticos policy this summer. Bernd Schuster struggled to cope with the constant barbs aimed squarely at his snubbing of the club's Castilla - and the complaints coming from the local lads and their supporters will only grow louder this season.

Di Stefano has always spoken highly of the Castilla and would expect Dani Parejo to find room in the first team next season. But the former QPR midfielder has no chance with Ronaldo and Kaka's arrival. Even if either player starts poorly, how can Pellegrini axe one of them in favour of a Castilla prospect?

Then there's the history between Ronaldo and Ruud van Nistelrooy. The pair clashed during their time together at Manchester United and it was one such training ground row which contributed to the Dutchman's departure to Real ...

Of course, all this is glass half-empty stuff. If Pellegrini's management leads to a winning start, then every doubt melts away.

Whatever happens, it's going to be great fun watching. It's exciting and chaotic ... it's Real Madrid.

Great to have you back, Florentino.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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