What happened to Spend, Spend, Spend?


Aside from their eerily calm pursuit of Luka Modric, Spanish champions Real Madrid have been very quiet this summer. Around now they're usually pursuing every superstar and bright prospect on the planet. Even perennial summer target Neymar is instead being linked with an eventual move to Barcelona. 

Aside from Nuri Sahin and possibly Kaka there isn't even much talk of players leaving. What on earth is going on there? Could it be that Jose Mourinho has won the internal power battle and a sensible attitude is now prevailing? He's brought them a stability they've lacked for years and that they're quietly going about their business shows that this is a different Real Madrid from the one we're used to groaning at. 

The situation is similar to how it was when Mourinho was at Chelsea. When he first arrived he made a lot of expensive signings but after he'd put his mark on the team he relied on a core group of players and tweaked his team as he felt necessary. 

A glance at Madrid's squad shows you that this is all it needs, if it even needs that. It verges on ridiculous. Cristiano Ronaldo's 60 goal season would be once in a generation were it not for you-know-who, but his individual haul masks the performances of Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain. Many questioned whether there was room for both at the club, but they proved emphatically that there is. Last season Benzema made 52 appearances and got 32 goals and 15 assists. In 54 games Higuain got 26 goals and 10 assists and they've developed an understanding that is increasingly rare between forwards in the modern game. 

The rip-it-up-and-start-again attitude that Madrid have had in the past is partially what let Barcelona dominate them for so long. While the Catalans had an almost telepathic cohesion, Madrid looked like, and often were, a group of strangers. No more. 

That a player such as Kaka isn't an automatic starter highlights the depth they have. His time in Madrid has understandably been seen as disappointing, but he's been unlucky with injuries and when he has played he's played well. Last season he made 39 appearances, scored 8 goals and made 14 assists, which is pretty good for a frequently interrupted season. 

He's a potential game changing signing for somebody but he signed a six year deal when he joined Madrid so he won't come cheap. I'm sure I'm not alone in hoping that he can find regular football again but with his current situation, we're all missing out on seeing a player who is dazzling on his day. His game has never been about pace so I can't help but feel that there's more to come from him. 

For the first time in a long time Madrid go into a season with as much stability as Barcelona, if not more. Tito Vilanova is well known to the Barcelona squad but there will always be a period of transition when a new manager takes over. 

The silence must be down to them doing what they do best; plotting. Madrid being Madrid, their plotting will involve winning that elusive 10th European Cup. Because they've won it more than any other club the likes of Florentino Perez feel that they have a kind of ownership of it, that it's their divine right to win it and that anyone else is just looking after it. This attitude has made them look frequently ridiculous in the past, but with the new found maturity that Mourinho has instilled in them this might just be the season that they finally get the reward they've always felt they deserve.