Great album, great lead singer. What lad didn’t have a Debbie Harry poster in the late 70’s? Anyway, I digress.

Remember when Roman arrived? I know, you can’t be expected to remember every little thing that happened at the club. But try to think back, what were the feelings at the time? No cheating, I don’t want you skimming back through posts and articles here to find out what the general consensus was – a bit of research tends to trash a good story doesn’t it?

MY memory, shaky as it is, and after removing the chaff of Mafioso gangster nation robbing money laundering James Bond villain buys football club as front for criminal activities, is that some of us were concerned that we would fly aimlessly down the Real Madrid route. Indeed, we spent a lot of money in that first season. But we hung on to the manager (whilst giving him Real type support) and the players coming in were solid, quality players like Cole, Mutu (yes, alright – hindsight is wonderful), Veron (yes, alright……etc) and the promise of Cech & Robben for the next season. No Beckhams, Ronaldinhos or Zidanes.

One typically understated purchase was Claude Makelele from Real themselves, and his story kind of typifies the parallel lines I’m thinking along.

Galactico Beckham had signed for Real. The story went that Claude, the water carrier type of Cantona/Deschamps legend, had earlier been promised a raise in recognition of his hard work, but in order to accommodate Beckhams wage demands the club had reneged on this.

Chelsea made a bid for the unhappy midfielder, which Real refused. Claude then threatened to go on strike until he was allowed to leave (something which we all tend to gloss over but which is possibly worse than anything Winston Bogarde did to us). Real eventually relented and we got our man for something around £15 million. This was seen as a ridiculously high fee for a defensive midfielder at the time.

Del Bosque, the successful coach of Madrid who had appeared from nowhere to lead the team to European glory, was at much the same time unaccountably dispensed with. He had had no particular pedigree or record to fall back on, in fact, he was pretty much unqualified to take over a club of this stature. Yet his record from 1999-2003 comprised of 2 Champions leagues, 2 Spanish leagues, 1 Spanish Super Cup, 1 European Super Cup, 1 Inter Continental Cup, progression to the last 4 in the Champions League every year and 104 wins in 186 games. He was also nothing to look at and seemed to be lacking in the personality stakes.

The Makelele-less midfield was toothless and Beckham faltered. He, Zidane and Figo seemed unable to play consistently together. They sold lots of shirts though, probably to knowledgeable football fans around the world that saw Beckham as a unique footballing talent. Maybe a few were tag-along football groupies who wouldn’t know their Arsenal from their elbow.

Claude was the man who had done the donkey work for them for several years had been treated like an ass and his leaving had kicked like a mule at their future prospects. The Del Bosque-less coaching staff was equally inept and his handling of talented players was only appreciated after his departure.

A series of new managers (I think they’re currently on their 8th since 2003 when Del Bosque left) took the reigns in an attempt to stop the club imploding, ending in Capello who regained La Liga and was rewarded with the sack.

The parallels I see are our loss of Gallas being the equal of Madrid’s loss of Makelele, currently the appointment of Grant not being a million miles from the appointment of Del Bosque, and latterly the signing of two players who would fit the ‘Galactico’ billing. Hopefully the Del Bosque similarity will be repeated in silverware.

Although the focus currently seems to be upon our aim to play like Barcelona, it looks more and more like we’re careering down the Real Madrid route to global domination. Is this a good thing? Well, from a Peter Kenyon standpoint it has to be. Real is still the club of legends and is arguably still the biggest name in world football, despite the apparent circus act that often seems to envelope it. On the football side, well, what do you think? They’re big and successful and quite often play exhilarating football with a team of stars.

Like I said at the beginning, the research on this is far from complete. I’m throwing this open to be discussed and, if need be, torn apart by the rest of you.

What’s the betting on Mourinho replacing Schuster I wonder?

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