Calm down! Real Madrid is still the greatest club in the world

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 27: Sergio Ramos of Real Madrid holds up the Champions League trophy as they celebrate at Santiago Bernabeu a day after winning their 13th European Cup and UEFA Champions League Final on May 27, 2018 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Helios de la Rubia/Real Madrid via Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 27: Sergio Ramos of Real Madrid holds up the Champions League trophy as they celebrate at Santiago Bernabeu a day after winning their 13th European Cup and UEFA Champions League Final on May 27, 2018 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Helios de la Rubia/Real Madrid via Getty Images) /

Following a historic loss to Ajax, Real Madrid as a club and Madridistas as a fan base consider what has been and what is to come for the greatest club in the history of world football.

Many words could be spilled over why Real Madrid’s entire season was destroyed over the space of a week. For some, it will be all about an absent number seven. For others, it is a failure to replace a brilliant manager with even competent minds.

Some will talk of an aging core, an imbalanced squad, some will even attack Florentino Perez as if winning four of the last six Champions Leagues is somehow insufficient.

I want to take a moment to appreciate the greatness of where we are and the hope that springs eternal for the future. Passionate reactions to a week of dramatic and famous losses are understandable, but the glory of our crest deserves more after this run than simple rage.

Four Champions League titles in five years should not happen in the modern game. With relatively low net spending compared to other continental giants like the Manchester clubs, PSG, Barcelona, and Juventus, it is inconceivable that a club could sell the man of the match from the 2014 Champions League Final (Ángel Di Maria) and go on to win three more titles with the same core.

The most expensive signing since this run began has been James Rodriguez, and he did not play a single minute in any of the UCL finals of the three-peat.

This level of dominance on the European stage had not happened since the 1970’s, and it may never happen again. While we certainly hate to see it go, it is more than any of us ever had any right to expect.

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The appointments of Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari were both mistakes. Neither man was prepared for the weight of this job, but if we are honest with ourselves, a fourth UCL Title running was almost certainly impossible as was catching Barcelona domestically in the face of their downright irresponsible levels of spending.

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The plan, over the last several years, has not been to continue to accumulate Galacticos like James Rodriguez. It has been to build a strong core of young players, which we saw on full display in the last week with Vinícius Júnior, Sergio Reguillon, Marco Asensio, and Fede Valverde all making contributions. These players, as well as Odriozola and Dani Ceballos, all combined to cost about what Barcelona has spent on Ousmane Dembele or Phillippe Coutinho alone.

The core that won these famous European titles was accumulated around the turn of the last decade and has matured together in the years since. This new core of young players has the potential to do the same if they are given time to mature under the right manager.

For many of the old guard, this summer will represent time to go. Marcelo, Karim Benzema, Keylor Navas, Gareth Bale, their time as essential pieces at the greatest club on Earth should end and we should send them out with ovations of appreciation for what they have done (yes including Bale).

If Luka Modric wishes to stay and retire at Real Madrid, he has to earn that right but it is time to make him a less relied upon player. Club captain Sergio Ramos needs to be a better leader than he has been in the last month, and in the next couple of years, his replacement should be joining the ranks.

These moves should happen not only to help the club move forward on the pitch but also so that these players can leave without having their legacies at this club tarnished. If we are not going to hire a manager who will feature the incredible talents of Isco, he should naturally be on this list also.

More important than any of these details, however, is the mindset of the fanbase. There are many Real Madrid fans who joined our ranks during the years of Ronaldo and his unmatched goal scoring feats and Zidane and his perfect UCL knockout record.

If you are such a member of our Real Madrid family, understand that these years have spoiled you. Many of us waited twelve years for La Decima. Twelve. Before the 7th European title in 1998, it had been more than thirty years since continental glory.

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For much of this run Real Madrid has had the two best central midfielders on earth in Toni Kroos and Luka Modric; such a pairing is absolutely unheard of in modern football and has only been replicated a couple of times in the history of the sport.

Karim Benzema would be recognized as second only to Raul among forwards of the modern era at the club were it not for an alien from Portugal who inhabited much of his time. The sheer scope of greatness that has been before us these last few years is more than any football fan deserves to see in a lifetime. This era was always going to be short-lived and it’s incredible that it lasted as long as it did.

There is no sense, whatsoever, in wanting the club to chase this now bygone era by buying big names in their late 20s and early 30s to pair with the aging names who have already done their part here.

Buying big names already at their peak is what the club did for much of the time after the original Galacticos left the club and before the Ronaldo era. Wesley Sneijder, Rafael Van der Vaart, Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Ruud van Nistelrooy, all part of an odd Dutch obsession that never brought the club the 10th big-eared trophy they sought.

The club has invested heavily in youth. We need to stay the course, give them the chance to grow. Convince players like Raul de Tomas and Mateo Kovacic that the club has turned a page on the old era and that they can be part of the new era of glory, and they need our support as fans through the inevitable growing pains that will be part of that process.

As much as Real Madrid and its fans believe they should win every title every year, the club will be healthier if we are patient with youth and patient with the right managerial hire. Do not go to some tired washed up big name like Jose Mourinho; find someone who has fresh ideas who can inspire this young core. Trust the process, and enjoy the football!

As painful as a year without trophies will be, do not turn away from this team for the rest of the year. Enjoy the football, all the pressure is off. Spend a couple of months the way many fans in world football do most seasons, taking the season game by game, savoring each for what it is as an experience of this great game for the sake of our glorious crest.

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The English translation of the song sung before each match in the Bernabeu says, “I am struggle, I am beauty, the cry that I learned: ‘Madrid! Madrid! Madrid! forward Madrid! and no other!”

This is where we are now. Struggle and beauty, the same irresistible desire to win that will eventually be satisfied once again, and in the meantime, as the largest family of soccer fans in the entire world supporting the greatest club in the history of the game, we say as one: “HALA MADRID!”

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