Who is more at fault – the players or the manager? The two are connected, eternally. Cristiano Ronaldo played badly, and so did the rest of his team, but the Real Madrid star is still trying to direct the attention away from his manager, even if Carlo Ancleotti wasn’t as kind to his own players after losing in the derby.
You can sum up Ancelotti’s reaction to the questions about his tactics and decisions to start with a lineup that included two defensive midfielders with one sentence – My tactics were fine, the players simply didn’t play well enough.
I’m not too sure Ronaldo, who hasn’t been playing well this season despite the six goals he has already scored in the league this season, was too happy to hear that coming from his manager, but he knows that another season of the media ripping the club from inside to shreds is yet another year of having to watch Barcelona from behind, and ending up trying to make up reasons why this season was still a success despite the titles, not to mention making it harder for him to win the Ballon d’Or.
The coach is not to blame. The players are to blame. I played badly, but not just me. My team-mates were not good either. We have to step up and fight harder. From today to tomorrow we can improve a lot and we will do. There are still a lot of league matches left, the Champions League, the cup. Five points is a big advantage but we have to keep working to make this a phenomenal season.
The problem with what Ronaldo said is one – about Real Madrid playing well this season. Carlo Ancelotti spoke about bringing a more attractive style to the team, but that was true while Ozil was still on it. The moment he left, all the ‘style’ of the preseason disappeared. Real Madrid are once again playing direct, “straight” football, and resorted to crosses only in their Derby defeat, as the only chances they managed to create came when working through the wings and crossing to the middle.
All the money spent this summer, and the need for Xabi Alonso is greater than ever. Isco is an excellent player, but at the moment he doesn’t have the ability of Ozil to handle aggressive marking and still be able to feed Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, who deserves to be benched, with quality passing. Luka Modric takes some of that pressure off, but Alonso is what Real Madrid are really missing in terms of adding an aspect of better passing and the ability to play the ball on the ground.
For now, Real Madrid’s biggest star, who doesn’t need to play well to score, has his manager’s back. But if disappointments continue to come at an alarming rate in Real’s bigger matches, that support will fade away and Ancelotti will start feeling the full wrath that is reserved for managers who fail in Madrid.