Real Madrid exited the Champions League at the semi-finals stage on Wednesday night.
Los Blancos drew 1-1 with Italian giants Juventus at the Bernabeu, but lost the tie 3-2 on aggregate after being beaten 2-1 in the first leg in Turin last Tuesday.
Real Madrid now look set to end the season with no major trophies after their European exit. Carlo Ancelotti’s team are currently four points behind bitter-rivals Real Madrid at the top La Liga with just two games to play.
With a potential players strike looming in Spain, there could even be the possibility that the league campaign is cut-short, with unknown consequences. One thing is for short though, Real Madrid have underachieved this season.
A campaign without a Real Madrid trophy in recent seasons is a collector’s item, as the whole club expects success and to collect silverware.
Real Madrid supporters seem to be the most demanding fans in the world game. Every set of supporters have expectations and dreams for their team each season, but Real fans never seem to be satisfied.
Welsh winger Gareth Bale seems to have borne the brunt of their fury in recent months. The former-Spurs star has struggled to find his best form, but the Madrid fans have been merciless in their criticism of Bale.
The criticism and booing of Bale may well have been understandable, but the booing of club legend Iker Casillas recently was quite frankly ridiculous. Casillas has been a loyal servant to the club and he showed his disgust at the whistles with a rather colour on-field outburst.
Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti is one of the most decorated bosses in the history of European football, winning the European Cup as both a player and manager. However, he has developed something of a reputation as a ‘cup manager’, in a sense that he tends to win cups not titles.
That tag was hard to dispute when Los Blancos won the Champions League and Copa Del Rey. However to call Ancelotti a ‘cup manager’ would be ridiculous’, although the Italian did show a good sense of humour with his 2009 autobiography entitled ‘Preferisco la Coppa’, translated to the best of my knowledge as ‘I prefer the cup’.
The experienced Italian has won league titles in his homeland with AC Milan, England with Chelsea and also in France with PSG. Those titles cannot be forgotten about and Ancelotti has proven himself to be a very astute coach in his 20 year managerial career.
Ancelotti is accustomed to managing big name players and big egos, but maybe in the current Real squad he has finally met his match ego wise, especially in the shape of one Cristiano Ronaldo, a guy whose football talent is matched by the size of his ego.
At Real Madrid bosses do not have an especially long shelf-life, even those who help Los Blancos to big trophies. Ancelotti created history by guiding the club to La Decima last season, which will mean a permanent place in the history of the club for the Italian.
However, with the team set to record a trophy less campaign and former-Real star Zinedine Zidane favourite to take the job at odds of 6/4, Ancelotti is currently looking like a dead man walking in the Spanish capital. It may be a matter of when he loses his job now and not if.
The problem that Ancelotti had this season is that his team are playing like a bunch of individuals and not a collective. It is the job of the head coach to bring players like that together, but sometimes too many big characters in a dressing room can make that job impossible.
Cristiano Ronaldo is a prime example, excellent player, but his individuality shows at times. He seems obsessed with improving his goal scoring stats and beating Barcelona’s Lionel Messi to every record.
Maybe this tunnel vision sometimes distracts him from the fact that football is a team game. He may be one of the team’s outstanding individuals, but his teammates contribute a great deal to the number of goals he scores.
Real Madrid were outstanding in the first half of the campaign, but complacency seems to have set in and they have forgotten how to play as a team in recent months.
No doubt Real Madrid will come back stronger next season and again attempt to win the big trophies, maybe with a new boss in charge and typically a host of new big name signings in toe.
However, the challenge for the next boss, maybe Zidane, is to get the best out of a host of players who have underachieved this season and mould them into a proper team.
It will be a challenge, but I am sure there are a whole host of top bosses out there who would love to work at such a massive club, even if at times the job can be a poison chalice.
Have Real Madrid underachieved this season?