Zidane took James off in Leganés, and the player was visibly not happy with the decision. Up until that point he had been playing really well, looked driven, involved and had been showing his undeniable talent – and of course that exquisite left foot he has been blessed with. It’s been two and a half years since he arrived in Madrid, joining as the big star of the Brazil World Cup. He picked up the Golden Boot award, and signed for Madrid for 80 million euros. He justified all expectations with a brilliant first season under Ancelotti. His elegant style of football and spectacular goals carried weight. He was a star player. But he suffered a fractured toe injury which kept him out of the side, then Modric was sidelined for several weeks. Madrid were affected - and weakened by both problems, the team nosedived, ended the season empty-handed and Florentino gave Ancelotti his marching orders.
Circumstances which dictated James' continuity at Real Madrid
That was when James’ productive run came to an end. Benítez never really connected with him (or anyone else, I might add). But neither has he managed to win over Zidane - under whom, out of a possible 46 games, he has only completed 10. In the rest of those matches he has either been a sub or a spare who flits in and out of Madrid’s games. A couple of days ago, in Leganés, he let it be known how he feels about now being bottom of the pack as he went off, replaced by Isco, who also has reason to complain about the amount of regular playing time he is getting. The root of the problem for both of them is the same – it’s the ‘BBC’ – Bale-Benzema-Cristiano frontline, the three untouchables who define a system in which there is no room for a deep-lying forward. It means that Isco and James are left to pick up the scraps whenever Madrid have injury concerns, or warm the bench with Morata, Lucas, Asensio...
James sees treatment as something personal
Until he was taken off, James looked as though he was enjoying himself in Leganés. He looked comfortable on the ball, his movement was good, his team mates sought him out just as he looked for them. He looked happy – at least that’s how I saw it. Then all of a sudden, his number’s up. There wasn’t that long left to play, just 18 minutes of a game that was already more or less decided, but it only irritated James, who was on a roll. Why always me? A friend of mine who isn’t involved in football mentioned a short while ago that it is always usually the forward players who are the first to be subbed, and more than likely one who has scored a goal because they can retire from the game happy. It’s true, it happens all of the time, take a look for yourself. James had scored a goal, but that was little consolation. It starting to develop into an obsession with him because he feels that Zidane sees him as a nuisance.