The start of the New Year saw the former team legend Zinedine Zidane make a homecoming to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium after being appointed as the club’s newest coach following the sacking of Rafa Benitez. The return of the French was met with mixed emotions, with most supporters delighted to see one of the best footballers of all time return to manage their beloved club.
Zidane’s playing career ended in 2006 with him winning the La Liga and Champions League titles in the early 2000s with Real Madrid. Since the start he had engraved himself in the hearts of the Madrid supporters, scoring one of the most phenomenal goals in Champions League History during a final against Bayer Leverkusen in 2002. Even his final goal for the club was a sublime header against Villareal. Not only did he make himself into one of the best players to ever play for the Los Blancos, he was also one of the greatest players of his era.
Those not in favor of the move have various reasons for being against this development. Nobody can predict whether Zidane will have the same success managerial wise as he had being a player. Whilst indeed being excited for the return of the star, they question whether the appointment of Zidane was a strategic move or rather a gamble.
The fact that Zinedine Zidane is hardly experienced cannot be denied. Perhaps this is the exact reason why most critics consider this appointment to be a gamble. However, though it can be categorized as a risk, it is a calculated risk by Floretino Perez. Zidane has only acted as an assistant to Carlo Ancelotti in 2014. From 2014 he managed the ‘B’ team of Real Madrid, Real Madrid Castilla. This is Zidane’s first proper managerial post and all eyes are on the French to see whether he delivers or not. Many compare this appointment with that of Pep Guardiola’s, who is now at Bayern Munich and is one of the most successful managers of this era, winning 14 trophies including two Champions League titles in a four-year spell as Barcelona coach, starting out as a player and a B team coach as well.
This is a ray of hope that the Spanish club supporters use to view this latest appointment. Perhaps, this is the exact thing that could make this as a tactical move as well. Though his previous jobs have hardly been convincing enough to make him eligible of holding this responsibility, they can be backed up. Zidane worked as a special advisor for Real Madrid’s first team under Jose Mourinho. He was also Real Madrid’s sporting advisor from 2011 onwards. Though his lack of experience calls this to be a gamble, Zidane is not entirely inexperienced, having worked closely with the team in previous situations. He has also worked under many successful managers as has no doubt picked up many useful strategies from them. This is the moment his managerial career has lived up to, now being able to manage one of the greatest clubs of all time.
Critics aside, supporters around the world are delighted with this move. Zidane, being a hardcore Madrista himself, is not only a familiar man, but also a determined and driven person. He is a natural leader and people in contact with him cannot help but be awed by his existence, whether in what he says or what he does. He seems to have breathed new life into the club already as attitude of the players at the Bernabeu has significantly changed as was seen during the first match under the new manager. The doubt that had been present under Benitez was no longer present, as the players looked much more confident than before. Something about having a club idol back holds its own charm. Many players have been associated with Zidane in some point of their lives and know that he is a man who will give it his all for the club.
It is no doubt still too early to decide whether this was a good decision or not. Zidane may turn out to be a horrible mistake for the club 6 months down the lane, or he could be the exact man Real Madrid need to get them back to a winning consistency. He was the greatest player of his time, and there is no need not to believe that he can be the greatest manager of his time as well. Success seems to follow the Frenchman and Madristas across the globe will be hoping that the same results will be seen. Whether it is a gamble or a risk, Zidane may be the right man to lead the Spanish club.