The players expected a different speech from Florentino

Florentino's post-match reprimand

When Florentino went down to the dressing room after the Ajax defeat, the Madrid players were expecting something else. They were waiting for something along the lines of: “Lads, I’d like to thank you for those four trophies in five years. It’s a huge achievement that has given the club even greater prestige. It didn’t go our way tonight, but you know we’re going to have a better stadium and we’ve been saving money. I consider this season to be a transition season. Four goals by Ajax cannot wipe away four Champions Leagues. We’ll strengthen and move forward”. That’s what they expected. But instead they were insulted and he vented all that pent-up anger over what he had just witnessed alongside his guests in the director’s box.

Ramos, Pérez and the stadium 

Sergio Ramos cut him off mid-sentence. The Madrid captain had warned Florentino in the summer that their goal threat had dwindled, but the Madrid president refused, inwardly, to put Cristiano at the centre of this whole era of success and wanted to show the world that the club could move forward without him. Clearly it hasn’t worked out that way. There have been two years of heavy scrimping (for the 'hallowed' revamp) and now Madrid are in a bind. The squad needs new faces but players are more expensive than ever – combining the stadium modernisation with four or five high-calibre signings would come at too high a cost. Those who have loaned money will not tolerate lavishness.

The rest of the season

And so Florentino’s hubris now turns on Solari, just as it had done previously with Lopetegui, who was famously reminded of the number of Ballon d’Or candidates in the squad. When cornered Florentino is capable of bringing in Mourinho, that root cause of disharmony that ran through the heart of Madridismo and, in fact, through the whole country. Players are what he needs. Madrid have a distinguished cluster of them out on loan - James, Odegaard, Achraf – that Florentino may well let fall by the wayside, but many more are required. In the meantime, Madrid will play a series of meaningless fixtures, with the only fear that their wretched run continues – a similar thing happened to Queiroz – to leave them scrambling for fourth.