Real Madrid's bailout plan: Buy players

Martin Rogers
Yahoo! Sports

Want to energize a nation's economy? Try a few big interest rate cuts to encourage spending.

Want to inject life into the January transfer window? Make sure Real Madrid has a miserable start to the season.

The ongoing turmoil engulfing the Spanish giant continues to rage as another week passed with further ructions. And the angry scenes following Sunday's tumultuous 4-3 home defeat to Sevilla was not even the most heated event of the weekend.

That came at a stormy annual general meeting during which club members screamed for the resignation of president Ramon Calderon and only approved Real's financial budget by a narrow margin.

With its bid for the La Liga title slipping away rapidly and the vultures circling, it is increasingly likely that Calderon will try to spend his way out of trouble next month.

A deal to sign Dutch striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar from Ajax for $25 million has already gone through, but expect more big names to follow. Once again, Cristiano Ronaldo is likely to come into the equation as Calderon knows that if he could pull off a blockbuster deal for Manchester United's Portuguese winger it would ease the pressure on him considerably.

In any case, the cash that Real throws around in January should stimulate a market that may otherwise have been reasonably flat. As we have seen in previous years, the money finds a way of trickling down and has a substantial knock-on effect.

But it could be the last throw of the dice for Calderon as he fights to save Real's season and his own position.

The First XI

1. Get him an Advil

Poor Roman Abramovich. The Chelsea owner's billions are starting to dwindle, after being hit by the global economic downturn and the decline in his business profits.

Don't worry. Abramovich won't starve any time soon. However, several of his key investments have fared poorly in the current market, among them multinational steel producer Evraz, which has seen drastic drops in value after the Russian ploughed $3.2 billion of his wealth into it.

Abramovich has introduced a new policy of frugality at Chelsea, a far cry from the early days of his reign when the club appeared to be treated as his personal plaything and vast sums were splashed about. The days of big spending in the transfer market appear to have gone, leaving head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari to work with what he already has.

2. Get him a beer

Thierry Henry seems, for now at least, to have stopped sulking, and Barcelona is reaping the benefits.

The former Arsenal striker looked a lost and listless figure at times last season following his switch from the English Premier League. But Henry was mightily impressive in Barca's 4-0 victory over Valencia, not just for his hat trick of goals but also for his tireless work rate and team focus.

Henry has had to adapt to being one of many stars in Spain, instead of the main man as he was with a young Arsenal team. The way he has grown into the new role is just one of the reasons behind the club's spectacular start to the season.

3. Get him some earplugs

Torino coach Gianni De Biasi looks set to be fired after being on the receiving end of a stream of abuse from his team's fans during a 4-1 home thumping by Fiorentina. Supporters repeatedly screamed insults at De Biasi and confronted club president Urbano Cairo afterward to demand a change of leadership.

4. Four corners

• Can you dispute Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill's claim that Ashley Young is "world class" after his performance against Everton?

• Could Major League Soccer learn from the Australian A-League's pro-active plan to offset a potential dilution of talent caused by expansion?

• How long before Kaka gets sick of life at AC Milan and decides to rebuild his lost reputation as the world's best player elsewhere?

5. Catch a flight to …

London Heathrow. A weakening pound and emergency price cuts makes London as a good bet for a Christmas shopping trip. Plus, Group A of the Champions League is the only one with both qualification places still in doubt. Go see Chelsea book its place in the last 16 at home to Cluj on Tuesday.

6. A round of applause for …

• Sydney Leroux. She proved why she is one of the most exciting talents in women's soccer by helping the United States win the Under-20 Women's World Cup with a 2-1 victory against North Korea. Leroux won the Golden Ball (player of the tournament) and the Golden Boot (top scorer).

• University of North Carolina. The Tar Heels won the NCAA women's national championship for the 19th time in 27 years, beating Notre Dame 2-1 in Sunday's final.

• Villarreal. With American Jozy Altidore playing 90 minutes, Villarreal fought back from a 3-0 deficit to draw 3-3 with Getafe.

7. Get them a Kleenex

• Hoffenheim. The German Bundesliga's fairytale leader suffered a heartbreaking defeat to Bayern Munich, conceding a last-minute winner on Luca Toni's deflected shot.

• Santos Laguna. Even loan signing Cuauhtemoc Blanco couldn't keep Santos in the hunt for the Mexican Apertura, as they lost 2-1 to Toluca in the semifinals.

• Franck Ribery. The Bayern Munich star was outraged at dropping to 16th place in voting for the European Footballer of the Year award, claiming he has been playing better than last year when he finished seventh. He has a point.

8. Get ready to say hello to …

Miami Barcelona. The expansion race for Major League Soccer's two 2011 slots is heating up, but already the Barcelona-backed Miami bid seems to be a strong favorite for one of the places. Barcelona has made firm assurances of its commitment and Bolivian businessman Marcelo Claure has impressed the MLS hierarchy with his vision and drive.

9. Get ready to say goodbye to …

Robbie Rogers. The 21-year-old Columbus Crew winger seems happy to spend another season in Major League Soccer, but he is sure to receive some decent offers in the January transfer window. With European scouting of North America continuing to increase, Rogers' efforts in helping the Crew win the MLS title garnered plenty of attention across the Atlantic.

10. Get excited about …

The FIFA World Club Cup. Sure, the tournament featuring FIFA's respective continental champions isn't the most thrilling spectacle, but it's a tidy little tournament which usually has a few entertaining games. The 2008 version starts in Japan this week, and Mexican champion Pachuca has a decent shot at meeting Manchester United in the final if it can get past Egypt's Al Ahly and Ecuador's South American champ Liga de Quito.

11. Why it's good to be a soccer player

Manchester United academy coach Brian McClair lifted the lid this week on the extreme level of pampering afforded to United's millionaire players. He revealed how a giant flat-screen television has been installed in the training ground locker room to help players manage their day.

"There were times of training, massage times, pedicure times, hair-care times, whose turn it was to speak to MUTV, who to instruct to run a bath for you, weights sessions, yoga times and nutrition advice," McClair said. "It also had the lunch menu, including how the food would be prepared, at what temperature and how it would be served."

How sweet.