How Real Madrid adopted 'the Arsenal strategy' to get the better of Barca

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There was Pep Guardiola enjoying his holidays in Italy, playing a bit of golf, making nice with Johan Cruyff and sussing out which Serie A club will be the one he's going to manage next, when Marca comes along to ruin his fun and force his hairline into an even deeper defensive position.

Despite being Champions League and Spanish Primera über-slayers and favourites to repeat the feat next season, Wednesday’s edition of the Real Madrid fanzine calls out his Dream Boys, and kicks sand in the face of the Catalan club by boasting of a Madridista victory in an area that really matters. “The Madrid line-up is winning in youth,” gloated the front page, bragging that the starting line-up for the forces of Mordor is a sprightly 26 compared to the positively creaky 27.36 for the Qatar Foundation’s Barcelona.

“Mou is building a team for the next ten years!” exclaimed the special edition, using what has now become known as 'the Arsenal strategy’ - the perfect soothing ointment when your club pays over the odds for French youngsters the fans have never heard of and care relatively little about, such as new-boy Raphael ‘the new Hierro’ Varane.

Marca argue that this whopping one year difference in ages between the sides is a clear sign that, for Barça, ‘the end of the cycle’ - a much used phrase in the Madrid media - is nigh. Of course, take Eric Abidal, Carles Puyol and Xavi out of the paper’s statistical equation and focus on the more youthful spine of Gerard Piqué, Sergio Busquets, Leo Messi, Pedro, Thiago and (maybe) Cesc Fabregas, and Marca’s argument falls to pieces quicker than your average Atlético Madrid season.

"You'll win nothing with that bunch of old ba....oh, you did? Well done..."

In fact, the theory collapses after the first line, as the chances are that Mourinho will not even be in Madrid another ten months, never mind ten years, with Rafa Benítez or Míchel - which could be funny - likely to turn up in the summer of 2012 and change the squad completely, keeping with the Madrid tradition.

The Rojiblanco world has been spinning frantically this week, with David De Gea saying goodbye to the supporters in a farewell press conference on Wednesday while not looking the slightest bit bothered about leaving the club which grew and nurtured him and then stuck him behind Luis Perea for a season-and-a-half as some kind of ‘I’m a Goalkeeper, Get Me Out of Here!’ trial.

Enrique Cerezo’s promise to never talk about players due to the club president’s new purely institutional role lasted one whole day - which was longer than most of his other pledges, to be fair - when he noted that “if Kun plays for Madrid, it’s bad luck. If he plays for Sevilla, it’s better. If he plays for Liverpool then much better.”

Getafe Team Dubai continue to be positively Catalan in their approach to spending, despite the promises of big bucks when the Royal Emirates deal was announced. Another player has joined on a free transfer with defender Lopo jumping ship from Deportivo to make it four freebies and two loan deals for the Coliseum club, with €18.3 million worth of talent departing. This doubtlessly brilliant fund-raising strategy is enough to make LLL suspect Getafe may be the club who’ll be picking up Kun Agüero...

Racing Santander have found a replacement for former manager Marcelino, with bundle of joy Héctor Cúper signing on for a year and speaking of his aim to bring strength and a high work-rate to the side.

Club president, Francisco Pernía, is more interested in tracking down the club’s owner Ali Syed, to get him to pay what is owed to the Racing’s previous owners and the players. Pernía was also keen to distance himself from the mess whilst speaking in the third person as well. “I’m not talking as the Racing president, but Francisco Pernía has had an immaculate record,” boasted Francisco Pernía, modest to the end.