The more straightforward title for this Post might have been “Why Real Madrid might still win La Liga, and why that outcome should not be seen as a disaster by all right (or left) minded people, as it normally would”.

Last season going into El Clasico at their Bernabeu Stadium Real Madrid and Barcelona were seen as neck and neck in the race for La Liga. Prior to the actual Clasico game, the Real Madrid side of Juande Ramos had gone a remarkable run of 18 games without defeat, with no less than 17 victories and 1 draw. That run was shattered with the unforgettable 6-2 victory by Guardiola’s team.  The next day Marca the “Real Madrid newspaper” stated that Ramos should not and would not get the job on a permanent basis. Hurt and angry, he responded with a classic phrase that owed something to Marx (Groucho not Karl) “I wouldn’t want to work for any club who judged me on one game”. Totally demoralised, his side went on to lose every single one of the remaining 4 games of the season. The eventual confirmation that Juande Ramos was out of work was therefore made at the culmination of a 5 game losing run and did not inspire widespread surprise or condemnation.

Pellegrini Decency and dignity in action

The figures of Pellegrini’s Real Madrid going into this season’s Clasico were even more impressive than those of Ramos. His team had won all 15 previous home games and set a series of goal scoring and point attaining records, like scoring 3 or more goals in 10 successive games. And his team went into the Clasico as league leaders if only on goal difference. Yet for months before the game Marca had been waging a campaign saying Pellegrini was not a good enough manager for Real Madrid and his team did not play good enough football. In the actual Clasico game,  as was reported in GGW’s post of April 13th “Real Madrid and Pellegrini lose”, Real Madrid were outplayed by Barca and Pellegrini was outmanoeuvred by Guardiola. The morning after the game the subtle and restrained Marca front page headline was “Pellegrini time is over” and inside a series of “We told you so” articles argued that Marca’s stance had been vindicated by the result.

Pellegrini has responded with all the dignity and decency that close watchers like GGW know is the absolute essence of the man. He refused to be drawn into discussions about his future and concentrated instead on publicly and privately reassuring his players that they could still win the league. His team listened attentively to him, as he still commands the respect of the players if not the Marca journalists nor his own President’s men. Real Madrid have won all three games since the Clasico, 2 of them away from home. No Juande Ramos he, cut from sterner stuff. It now looks much more likely that his initial prediction, that they would win all 7 of their remaining games, could be proved correct. His other public prediction was that those 21 points would be enough to win the league as Barcelona could well drop the 4 points required out of their remaining 7 games (4 not 3 because of the Spanish head to head rule for determining point equality) That thesis now looks much more likely than when he first made it, thanks to 2 points dropped against neighbours Espanol and 2 remaining away games against Villarreal and Sevilla both of whom will be well motivated and well equipped to take at least a draw. If either Villarreal or Sevilla gets even a draw at home against Barca, and Real win their 4 remaining games, then Real Madrid will be champions. So Pellegrini could yet win his first trophy in Europe. He has after all won 4 league titles in 3 different South American countries (Chile, Ecuador and Argentina) as well as 2 continental club titles there.

Many of his players have come out publicly to support him and suggest he should be allowed to stay on as Real Madrid manager next season. The Real Madrid supporters, both in a series of opinion polls and by their attitude at the one subsequent home game, a convincing victory against 3rd placed Valencia, have demonstrated that they rate him highly despite the Barcelona defeat and many have indicated they do want him to stay.

One great imponderable is  that no-one can know what the two gruelling draining games against Inter Milan have done to the collective Barcelona psyche, at a time when Madrid have had 2 complete midweeks to rest and plan. We do know that Pellegrini has stressed to his own players that these games are bound to have taken a physical and mental toll on the Barcelona players and that the elimination he predicted as very possible would have a considerable morale damaging effect on them.

I know that Pellegrini, a gentle man with a keen and warm sense of humour, would be wryly amused if his former Villarreal players (all bar Nilmar of the Villarreal to play Barca on Saturday are Pellegrini men) were the ones to down Barcelona for him. With their own deep desire for European qualification driving them on, aiding Pellegrini will not be their primary motivation, but it is clear from some of the interviews this week that it is a strong secondary one. Big Capdevilla publicly told his old boss not to worry, they would beat Barcelona. Capdevilla also went out of his way to stress what a good man as well as a good manager Pellegrini was, and stated that contrary to his somewhat distant public image he was actually capable of being warm and intimate with the players.

But the crucial point  is the different one made by Capdevilla and one understood by many. Put simply, it is that Real Madrid’s opposition Barcelona are probably the greatest team ever seen in La Liga and to almost match them would be a tremendous achievement, to surpass them would be a true miracle of management genius.

In their two away games since the Clasico Real Madrid have been struggling at points in the game, against both Almeria and on Saturday against Zaragoza, but neither Pellegrini nor the players panicked, he kept aggressive formations and in the end both were safely won.  Immediately after el clasico the odds against Real Madrid winning the league shot out to 7-2. Now the best odds available are only 7-4, but that may well represent a good bet. One to be got on to before Saturday night when Villarreal may well beat a tired and demoralised Barca.

Yet the already taken decision to sack Pellegrini at the end of the season will not be reversed if he succeeds in winning the La Liga title. Talks have already been underway for weeks by the President’s men with representatives of the main candidates including Mourinho and Benitez, and more bizarrely Capello and Ancelotti.

After very careful consideration of all the available evidence GGW is convinced that the determination to get rid of Pellegrini is not based on even a sub-conscious form of racism. Rather it is based on severe social snobbery and a supremist elitism where Madrid and its own are seen as the centre of the civilised world and South America as a provincial backwater, with Chile and Mexico well below Argentina in a social hierarchy. Real Madrid have had influential South Americans involved in the club over its history. The legendary Di Stefano is still the venerated honorary President of the club. The Director General Valdano is an Argentinean and if Pellegrini had been sacked in October as Marca demanded Valdano might well have been appointed as his temporary replacement. But anyone who has read any of the Marca articles referring to Pellegrini not as Manuel Pellegrini, or Senor Pellegrini or even Pellegrini but sneeringly only as “El Chileno” will understand the subtle forces of elitist snobbery at work here. In the words Margaret Thatcher was prone to say, the Madrid elite view is “He is not One of Us” so he has to go.

So ultimately that is the real case for hoping Pellegrini triumphs with Real Madrid. In the short –run there would be Madrid triumphalism to endure but then the true nature of the Madrid beast  with its social snobbery and elitist supremacy would be starkly revealed for the whole world to see and excoriate.

The full story of the way Pellegrini has been treated in Madrid, the full case made against him by Marca and the extent to which his essential personality made it the wrong job for him will be told in a Chapter of my book on Villarreal “The Yellow Submarine” to be published in September. In the meantime GGW will follow closely the development of this modern Tragedy Tale.

The next  GGW Post  will provide a guide to Celtic supporters planning to watch the Villarreal game about what to look for  as they support the Yellow Submarine directly and Pellegrini by proxy.