By Guillem Balague
Vicente del Bosque knew he was about to leave Real Madrid CF at least 20 days before the end of the season.
Intuition, he called it, but it was more than that. The relationship between club president Florentino Pérez and the coach reached a particular low the night Madrid exited the UEFA Champions League at the semi-final stage in Turin. Watching his side fall to a 3-1 defeat against Juventus FC at the Delle Alpi, Florentino felt the team had stalled, that it was not progressing, that the relaxed attitude of Del Bosque to training (he gave importance to resting after so much travelling, but the president believed the players need more pushing) and the lack of tactical work in the side were stifling the team's potential.
In any other country, two league titles and two UEFA Champions Leagues in three-and-a-half years would be the beginning of an era, but Florentino had accumulated grievances against Del Bosque in the last few months. His policy of buying the best players in the world has to go hand-in-hand with using players from the youth sides, the so-called 'Zidanes and Pavóns' philosophy.
Senior players tired
But Del Bosque did not use many young prospects, and they ended up being released to other clubs every summer. There was no rotating and Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Raúl González, Zinedine Zidane and Roberto Carlos never started from the bench despite their obvious dips in form, so Del Bosque's preferred eleven reached the last stage of the season without much petrol left.
Break bad habits
So Madrid, contradicting the history of football, decided to change while at the top of a successful wave. Florentino says he has just swapped the book for another one - Carlos Queiroz's. The new man is modern, fresh, cosmopolitan and still obedient with authority but willing to break bad habits within the side.
Diplomatic Del Bosque
The worst scenario for Madrid would be to have to admit their mistake and rely again on Del Bosque to save the side. Despite that, the club offered an office (technical director) to a man who had been at the club for 35 years, but Del Bosque, always polite, always diplomatic, refused it because he did not want his shadow to walk around the club and affect the new arrival.
The timing of his departure was not good, accelerated no doubt by the events of the title celebrations on Sunday night, with clashes between Fernando Hierro and the president, watched quietly from the distance by Del Bosque.
Shift of power
Del Bosque did not deserve this ending, neither Hierro. But the announcement of both goodbyes at the same time signals a powerful message from the president to the old core inside the squad (Raúl, Guti, Míchel Salgado). The balance of power at Madrid has shifted towards Florentino. That is why for the first time Raúl has thought of leaving Madrid.
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