Tim Stannard explains how Real Madrid have cleaned up the problem of former hero Iker Casillas...
If you had zero knowledge of the Spanish language - José Antonio Reyes falls into this category on some occasions - then you’d have thought that Florentino Pérez had gathered together the media, as well as Iker Casillas for some odd reason, to read the instructions to a stain removal solution.
“Shake can rigorously, hold four inches away from stain,” intoned El Presidente of Real Madrid, looking with some regret at a red wine stain on the floor by the podium. “Spray solution at centre of stain and let stand for three minutes,” continued Florentino with his former club captain watching on.
“Dab with a damp cloth and repeat until stain is removed,” was the conclusion from Pérez before shuffling off to plot more Real Madrid mayhem at the Santiago Bernabeu.
In theory, it was an emotional moment for the club. It was the moment when a player who had been at Madrid for 25 years said farewell to the fans having had a bit of a blub the day before. However, Florentino read his speech with all the joie de vivre of someone forced to change a smoke detector battery.
“It was forced, improvised,” said Tuesday’s Marca on a speech from Florentino which mainly concerned itself with pointing out that it was Iker’s decision to go, rather than the club pushing him out the door in exactly the same way that didn’t happen with Guti and Raúl. “He’s going because he wanted to, nobody from Madrid asked him to go.” Either way, ‘San Iker’ will have woken up feeling quite fantastic, no longer having to deal with the enormous burden of being Real Madrid captain and having to deal with the endless rows. The Porto goalie even felt light on his feet enough to joke about spotting a statue of José Mourinho in Oporto, rather than trying to throttle it.
The fact that some of the 3,000 fans that came to wave farewell also demanded the resignation of the club president would also have cheered him enormously, with the pair far from being bosom buddies.
While Casillas is now off to Holland for pre-season training with his new club, the Madrid squad are Down Under in Australia and playing rock, paper, stone on who wants to be in goal for the upcoming friendlies, now that Casillas has gone, Keylor Navas is injured and David de Gea is on tour in the US of A with Manchester United. Rafa Benitez has now realised that he is managing the oddest club in the world, if that had not happened before. By the side of the coach - at least for the moment - is Sergio Ramos, and it seems that despite all the drama of last month when the stopper was demanding a move to Manchester United, the club are unwilling to let a dressing room heavyweight leave, an action that would leave Marcelo as captain following the tradition that the longest serving player gets the armband. In the same way that United having De Gea far, far away from Europe, Real Madrid might be able to use the Oceanian distance to keep Ramos in house. If not, then it will be another exercise in stain removal for Florentino.