With Real Madrid falling further behind Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in the Spanish La Liga, head coach Rafael Benitez is expected to part company in the coming weeks. While club president Florentino Perez publicly backed the Spanish manager in the aftermath of last month’s 4-0 thrashing against Barcelona, his patience will be wearing thin after defeat away to Villarreal put Real five points adrift of the top-two sides.
Zizou a popular choice among the fans
Real Madrid Castilla (reserve team) coach Zinedine Zidane is 4/6 to be next Real Madrid manager and is reportedly keen to temporarily take charge until the end of the season. It would certainly be a culture shock from the humble surroundings of the reserve side given the egos in the Real dressing room, but Zidane has been a familiar face at the Bernabeu ever since returning. He’s spent time as assistant manager (winning the Champions League Copa Del Rey and Champions League in 2013/14) while now in charge of the B team.
Engrained in the club’s philosophy of attacking and entertaining football, while being a highly popular figure due to his brilliance as Real Madrid player, Zidane would certainly be a supporters’ pick, but his coaching experience at the top level is minimal. Expectation is high at the club, and giving the Frenchman so many months could be a gamble not worth taking in regard to Champions League prospects and the title race.
Benitez walking the tightrope
While struggling for consistency, Rafael Benitez still has time to turn things around, but the supporters and players are said to be slowly turning. Real Madrid’s expensively assembled attack were heavily criticised in the aftermath of the Villarreal defeat, with Cristiano Ronaldo most notably having struggled to make any impact going forward. The Portuguese has hit a blank nine times in La Liga this season already, and Benitez’s pragmatic approach has been blamed.
There are many other coaches who could bring the attacking style back to Real Madrid, namely former boss Carlo Ancelotti who won the Champions League with Zidane as his No.2. Reprising the two could be a good move, with Zidane shadowing the Italian manager until he’s in a place to take the job full-time, but Real are likely to need an interim option this season if they lose faith in Rafa.
Zidane was a tactically astute central attacking playmaker before his retirement, finding space with ease to be a threat going forward, possessing high levels of creativity and more often than not making the right decisions in the final third. He was also part of an expensive Real squad guilty of underachieving in the league, but does this translate into good coaching? He’d be a brilliant mentor for the players, but there’s the risk that such a job is coming too soon in his career.
Could Zinedine Zidane be given the Real Madrid reigns until the summer?