They say never go back, but Zinedine Zidane has rarely been someone who pays too much attention to the advice of others.
Zidane returned to his old role of Real Madrid coach on Monday, just nine months after walking away from the post following their third straight Champions League triumph.
After a dreadful season that has seen brief and unsuccessful spells for Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari, Madrid will be delighted to have Zidane back at the helm.
So, was he right to return? Here Omnisport’s Liam Blackburn and Nicholas McGee debate that question.
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadrid) March 12, 2019
Why Zidane is wrong to go back
By Liam Blackburn
Perhaps Zidane’s return could be comprehended if he had unfinished business at the Santiago Bernabeu. Yet after winning three Champions League titles in a row and the 2016-17 LaLiga crown, what is there left for him to achieve with Los Blancos?
If Zidane wants to be considered an elite manager, he must prove himself away from Madrid, as Jose Mourinho did in multiple countries, and as Pep Guardiola has done since leaving Barcelona. There were murmurs he could be next in line at Juventus if Massimiliano Allegri moved on at the end of the season – the prospect of ending their long wait for Champions League glory would surely have been a more appealing challenge to Zidane.
Yet instead he has opted for the ‘comforts’ of Madrid, for a job that seemingly left him jaded just under a year ago. Perhaps he has returned because he has been promised a greater say in transfer dealings – reportedly a bone of contention for Zidane in his first stint – but how much control is president Florentino Perez really willing to cede on that front?
Sequels are rarely as good as the originals, and Zidane is returning to a Cristiano Ronaldo-less team desperately in need of a rebuild. He won the Champions League every single year he was in charge first time around, how can he possibly live up to those heights again?
Why Zidane is right to go back
By Nicholas McGee
Zidane’s legacy at Madrid is already secured. With a hat-trick of Champions League titles under his belt, he will forever be seen as a club legend regardless of what happens in his second spell.
However, what Zidane will have been disappointed by is how quickly a team that looked so formidable has suddenly crumbled without him.
He had, by all accounts, warned the club that a tumble down to earth was likely if his demands over transfers were ignored. Madrid have paid the price for failing to heed his words this season, their squad looking unfit for the demands of trying to win on three fronts.
Part of leaving a legacy is putting something in place that will last, that can carry on after you have gone. For Zidane to return, he will likely have received assurances that Madrid will strengthen. With those in place, and the emergence of Vinicius Junior, Sergio Reguilon and Marcos Llorente this season, Zidane should have much better resources to rebuild a team that can sustain success even after his second stint ends.
Refreshed after a ninth-month break from the rigours of coaching at the highest level, that is a strong enough reason for Zidane to return to add to his legend by developing a unit that can enjoy long-term dominance in all competitions.
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