Alternated Class and Perfection of Man-Management: How Zinedine Zidane has restored the Glory Days at Real Madrid.
Following the appointment of Carlos Quieroz in 2003, Real Madrid as an entity, experienced over a decade of managerial ups and downs, with the likes of Fabio Capello, Manuel Pellegrini, Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti all having contrasting spells at the Santiago Bernabeu
Real Madrid were winning trophies, but the cookie jar lacked an ideal ingredient, the Los Blancos had lost a significant fraction of what made her the World’s most successful club; that embodiment of class, tranquility and elastic dominance
While Schuster, Juande Ramos, Manuel Pellegrini and Rafa Benitez couldn’t make any additions to the club’s rich trophy cabinet, Fabio Capello, Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti all had unique triumphs in their own rights, most notably Ancelotti, who guided the Los Blancos to it’s tenth European title, the famous La Decima in Lisbon (2014).
However, until the appointment of Zidane exactly two years ago, (January 4, 2016), Real Madrid still had a thick cloud of ‘complacency and lack of ideas’ hovering around the famous white badge..
The sacking of Rafa Benitez was expected, nothing surprising about it, but not even a gathering of elite octopuses would have predicted the electrifying success that would follow once the inexperienced Zidane was brought in to replace the Spaniard
So how has Zidane turned it around? We have a few ideas..
Participation in Training Sessions and Rondo Drills
Very few managers do the honors of joining their players in training routines and rondo drills, Zidane is one of those. Although, on a completely different level during his playing days, The Frenchman brings himself down to the level of his players, as though he’s discharging his duties as a player/coach
When Real Madrid train, Zidane can be seen chasing the ball around, practicing set-pieces with Cristiano Ronaldo and even occasionally nutmegging the likes of Casemiro and Carvajal who won’t act accordingly around a certified legend of the game
The significance of this virtue cannot be overemphasized, Real Madrid players have come to love and respect their boss just as they did while he was a player, he’s one of theirs, a legend, a friend, a fellow player, and then a manager.
Press Conferences and Absence of Controversies
If you’re waiting for Zidane to give something away in any of his press conferences, you better reconsider and try your luck with Mark Hughes, Arsene Wenger or Jose Mourinho; Gennaro Gattuso might even be a better option, he’s been saying a lot recently
As Real Madrid boss, the French tactician has further won the affection of his players by keeping his press conferences as righteous as humanly possible; no backbiting, no apportioning of blames, always defending his players in public, never lashes out at journalists, always keeps his calm under pressure, just like he did with ball at his feet
Squad Rotation and Perfection of Man Management
Truth be told, when Zidane succeeded Rafa Benitez, he was largely inexperienced as a manager, and a lot of questions were asked about his tactical prowess and man-management skills
Over 730 days later, the 1998 World cup winner has succeeded in shrewdly massaging the egos of his players whilst implementing a rotation method that has filled the Madrid dressing room with collective confidence and motivation
While the likes of Morata, James Rodriguez and Mariano had to leave last summer, Real Madrid’s 2017 campaign will be remembered as one of the happiest periods in the club’s history, not just because they won five trophies from a possible six, but because Zidane also embarked on a policy of constant rotation that worked perfectly well
According to MARCA’s Jesus Sanchez;
Zidane’s generosity in the division of minutes was phenomenal, yet still Real Madrid continued to win in LaLiga on Sundays as well as in the Champions League on Wednesdays.
He couldn’t have said it any better.
What happens when everyone is happy? winning becomes a lot easier, collectively, and individually, most notably Cristiano Ronaldo, who has picked up consecutive ‘Best FIFA and Ballons d’Or’ awards.
Alternated Class, More Friends!
With all the talk about Zidane’s lack of experience, the 45-year-old has forged a reputation as arguably the most loved manager since taking over as Real Madrid boss two years ago; He oozes as much class as a manager as he did when he kicked balls for a living
Pleasing football on the eye, trophies everywhere, tranquility at the Santiago Bernabeu (except of course, during trophy celebrations) and a relaxed demeanor that has defied the much talked about pressure that comes with managing the best team in the world
For the first time in a very long while, the Los Blancos have gained that world-wide empathy that wins you friends from all corners of the world
Is Zidane at the right place at the right time? or is the party at Real Madrid simply a three-dimensional reflection of his alternated class? You choose.
The Rivalry: Checkmating Barcelona
Even though the los blancos’ last game in 2017 ended in a humiliating 3-0 defeat to bitter rivals Barcelona, Zidane’s tenure has brought a satisfying degree of dominance for Real Madrid over the Catalan club.
So far, Zidane has eight trophies to Barcelona’s four, a laudable achievement given what obtained in the past when; both teams were either sharing the spoils or the blaugrana were keeping everything to themselves, Real Madrid had been relegated to spectators, but all that has changed under Zizou’s tenure.
The Acid Test is Here, What Now??
Every successful manager reaches that point where it looks like they’ve hit a dead end, it’s happened to Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Jupp Heynckes; Zidane is no exception.
Real Madrid’s La Liga title defense has gone completely off track with the European champions languishing in fourth place, fourteen points behind league leaders Barcelona, who have yet to lose a game this season.
While the los blancos have enjoyed better fortunes in the Champions league this season, a Last-16 draw against Paris Saint-Germain only points towards a very tense period for Zidane.
It’s no longer news that the powers that be at Real Madrid easily lose patience when the cracks and wrinkles begin to surface, but the Frenchman’s future with the club will be determined by how well he steers the ship away from the iceberg in these crucial times
Until then, the Marseille native has, in just two years, pulled off feats even Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti found impossible, is it down to tactical ingenuity? or just a tale of alternated class bringing back the glory days at Real Madrid?