During the morbid and embarrassing press conference in which Real Madrid President Florentino Perez announced that he was canning Carlo Ancelotti, the head honcho was asked why he was firing him. His official answer: “I don’t know.”
Reports have come out, however, that Florentino’s main beef with Ancelotti was that he supposedly didn’t train his players hard enough, with a lot of the blame landing on the fitness coach, Giovanni Mauri. The idea being that the team finished the season trophyless because of untimely injuries to Luka Modric, James Rodriguez, Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos, and Cristiano Ronaldo, and if that is the case then it must be because they aren’t training properly.
(Pepe, by the way, claims that they trained harder under Ancelotti than with Mourinho.)
According to a report in Marca, Ancelotti was told that if he wanted to have any prayer of staying with Real Madrid next season, he’d have to dump his long-time collaborator Mauri (above, left). In his final press conference before being fired, a defiant Ancelotti defended his staff, calling them “the best in the world”
Two years ago, in the summer of 2013, Florentino Perez decided bring in a doctor named Jesus Olmo to run the medical staff. He was recommended by Jeronimo Farre, a cardiologist who happens to be Florentino’s friend and board member of Real Madrid. Within months, many of Real Madrid’s players lost complete confidence in the medical staff’s diagnoses. It started when the team’s doctors failed to diagnose Cristiano Ronaldo’s muscle tear in his thigh, saying he only had tendinitis in his knee. A furious Ronaldo then refused treatment from the club’s doctors, preferring to go back to Portugal to get a second opinion.
Then, Jesus Olmo, who is very close with Florentino, began to tell his boss that the problem at the club was a guy named Pedro Chueca, a longtime Real Madrid physical therapist who was beloved by the players. In January 2015, Chueca was fired and denied entry into the training facilities in Valdebebas. The situation was so serious that the team’s captains demanded a meeting with the club’s brass to see what the hell was going on. Sergio Ramos was at the forefront of the meeting, where he blamed Dr. Olmo for his recurring muscle injuries this season.
Since then, Karim Benzema has had a similar showdown, preferring to get treated in Lyon for the knee injury that kept him out longer than expected during the most crucial part of the season. Benzema and his teammates were reportedly furious that the forward was told that he didn’t have anything serious, only to find out three days later that he actually sprained his knee.
Luka Modric then suffered the same exact kind of knee sprain as Benzema did. Seeing how the club’s doctors botched that one, he demanded to be treated by Pedro Chueca, whom Olmo had fired just a few months earlier. The club reluctantly agreed, but it had to be off the premises.
If this all seems strange for a supposedly first-class is club, well, it is. Florentino already personally handles all the team’s transfers after refusing to name a sporting director. Now he seems to want to stick his hand in the club’s medical affairs. The club finds itself in a situation where none of the players trust the medical staff to give them the right advice. I can’t think of another example like this. If there are, please tell us in the comments.
Back in 2003, the players, led by Fernando Hierro and Raul, mutinied against a president who they saw as too meddlesome. This episode led to the firing of Vicente del Bosque, setting off a spell of three trophyless seasons. Now, 12 years later, history seems to be repeating itself.