Sunday, March 24, 2019

Can Zinedine Zidane revive Real Madrid?

David Nugent in Editorial, La Liga 12 Mar 2019

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On Monday, Zinedine Zidane joined Real Madrid as the club’s new coach. The Frenchman has signed a contract until 2022 after the Spanish giants sacked Santiago Solari. Zidane returns to a club he left only last summer having ‘needed a change’. His return is certainly big news.

Real Madrid enduring a poor campaign

Zidane’s exit led to the appointment of Spanish head coach Julen Lopetegui just days before the World Cup, much to the surprise and annoyance of everybody involved in the Spanish national set-up.

Lopetegui was out of his depth in Madrid. The highly-rated coach lasted just a few months before it was Santiago Solari’s turn to make a complete hash of the job at arguably the biggest club in the world.

The Argentinian made a promising start, only for the wheels to come and things to go badly wrong very quickly. The final straws for the Madrid hierarchy were back-to-back home defeats against rivals Barcelona. Even worse was an incredible 4-1 home defeat by Ajax that saw Los Blancos exit the competition at the last 16 stage.

In short, Madrid are in a mess, which Lopetegui and Solari were not able to get them out of. Neither were great appointments and both have cost the European champions dearly.

Zidane galvanised the club in his first spell

Zinedine Zidane enjoyed an incredible two-and-half years as head coach of Real Madrid from January 2016 to the summer of 2018. He won the Champions League in three straight seasons, which is unprecedented for any boss. The one blot on his copybook was that he won just one La Liga title.

It would be incredible if he could return to the Spanish club and repeat the trick a second time. Los Blancos need a lift and Zidane has a history of providing just the sort of thing in his first spell. Zidane had a big galvanising effect on the whole club. Arguably his team’s success was not necessarily down to his brilliant coaching skills, but more his man-management and strength of character.

One major difference in his second spell is that the Frenchman does not have a certain Cristiano Ronaldo at his disposal. Zidane’s and Portuguese’s exits coincided with Madrid’s slump in form. Ronaldo was so often the man for the big moment for Real Madrid, especially in the Champions League. Zidane will need to find another talisman on the pitch and those have been in short supply at the Bernabeu this season.

Must build confidence for next season

Zidane returns to a Real Madrid who are out of the Champions League and cut adrift in the race for the Spanish top-flight crown. In fact, the European champions are odds of 50/1 to win the Spanish title.

Considering that Los Blancos are 12 points behind arch-rivals and league leaders Barcelona those are fair odds. If Zidane managed to win the title this season then it would be on par with that the water into wine trick.

With the title looking gone, Zidane must now turn his attention to building confidence for next season. The Frenchman must also start to consider which of his players are good enough to remain at the club next season. No doubt he will be given a decent summer transfer kitty to sign new players. However, the current Real Madrid playing squad is certainly not short on talent. They may be just need the right coach to get the best out of them.

I have seen the old adage about never going back quoted by many while reading about Zidane’s return to Madrid. The Frenchman will be hoping that he does not regret returning to a club where he is regarded as a hero. The Madridistas are not always kind to their heroes, though. For Zidane’s sake, I hope it is a happy return to the Spanish capital.

Can Zinedine Zidane revive Real Madrid?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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