Rafa Benitez became the tenth Real Madrid manager appointed by Florentino Perez but there is at least some kind of method to the managerial madness of the club's demanding president.
A coach with a soft touch and one who rules with an iron fist seem to line-up after one another in the revolving doors of the Santiago Bernabeu. The calming nature of Manuel Pellegrini was followed by the intense and divisive character of Jose Mourinho. After the ‘Special One' started fires left, right and centre Perez looked for a man to pour cold water on them and he came in the shape of Carlo Ancelotti.
After a ruling of freedom and calm, an era of strength, power and separation to get things back in-line. When all that goes wrong, bring in a man to bind what is usually a talented squad back together and keep away from the press. That method is not unique to Perez nor Madrid but it is a method the construction magnate has favoured, especially in his second presidential stint.
With the departure of a man who brought a sense of calm after the madness of Mourinho, Perez may not have brought a man in as controversial as the Portuguese but he has brought in a man to operate as the ying to Ancelotti's yang. A man who can bring order and new values to a squad who finished the season without a major trophy.
There could be pluses. Ancelotti's approach of not taking his work home with him and keeping his private life separate from his working one came in for criticism, rightly or wrongly. While that may have had its plus points in the Madrid pressure cooker it can be argued that a job such as coaching Real Madrid takes over your life - and it should if success is to come of it. This job will take over Benitez's life, he will leave little time for out-of-work enjoyment.
There is also the argument that having a tougher approach should ensure players do not rest on their laurels. One of Ancelotti's weaknesses was that he made too many of his squad "non-negotiable". Whether or not Perez had an input on this, a desire to see his most expensive players play, remains to be seen but the approach left those players tired, at risk of injury and also without fear that they would lose their place. Competition is always good and Madrid lost that to an extent last season.
With a strong and authoritarian coach comes the risk of clashes with his squad, however, and that risk is hardly greater than at Real Madrid. Iker Casillas, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos and Marcelo amongst the names. Relationships in the squad were largely mended over the last few years and Benitez will want to keep those relationships in tact for the good of the team.
"My general plan is to make the most of this great team and not get into the individual aspects today," said Ancelotti when he was asked numerous times about individuals in the squad. "I have an excellent and extremely professional squad of players and I'll assess each of them regardless of their name."
While it is healthy to carry out such a task, it in unimaginable to see Benitez tell some of Perez's favorites such as Ronaldo, Bale, Ramos or James Rodriguez that they will not be part of the team. An assessment of each player "regardless of their name" may not quite stretch to the aforementioned quartet - the president's golden boys.
The one that sticks out like a sore thumb is Cristiano Ronaldo. With 60-plus goals last season, his best ever club tally, the Portuguese star is as crucial as ever to Madrid and Benitez needs his main man firing on all cylinders if silverware is to be scooped next season. The problem is not the threat of the former Manchester United man being dropped from the team but being rested as part of the Spaniard's rotation policy.
In theory, a rest for a player who is getting no younger should be a good thing, especially in the more comfortably matches against La Liga's bottom clubs. The thing is, they are exactly the kind of matches Ronaldo does not want to miss in his individual battle for awards. Ronaldo is always hungry for goals and does not want to miss out on any opportunities unless injury prevents him, just like his nemesis Lionel Messi.
Under normal circumstances Benitez would offer Ronaldo rest but that will most likely be met with a straight "no". The former Liverpool coach needs to keep those relations at a good level for both himself and Ronaldo and for the good of the team.
"They're all great professionals," Benitez said of the squad he is inheriting. "As to who will be playing in this game or the other, that decision will be made when the time comes. I like football and exchanging ideas with my players. The objective is trying to get the whole team to play well by getting the best out of the individual players."
The former Valencia title-winner mentioned individuals on more than one occasion and repeated his trait of interacting with his players to get their views and their thoughts. That will be important but it remains to be seen just how democratic he will be with his men. "We need to speak with the players and seeing how they feel because that has allowed us to get this far," he acknowledged. "You have to adapt to the quality of the squad, as you have to be attack-minded while maintaining the balance in defence."
Benitez will not turn Ronaldo into a great defensive midfielder or use Gareth Bale as a full-back as some comments have hinted in jest, but he will demand more from his men. There will be a fine line, especially after the relatively loose approach of his predecessor, but Benitez knows the club, the president and the press well enough not to do anything that would harm the ultimate goal of his team.