The world of football is an extremely tough one to dominate, and standing out as the best among all involved is not an easy achievement. However, Real Madrid and their supporters might think otherwise at this given point of time, as there is certainly nobody else that can raise their hand and claim to be equally good or better than them.
Their current team has recently dominated not only Spain domestically, but also European football. The team won the La Liga last season, and if that was not enough, they went on and simply defended their UEFA Champions League crown too. They became the first ever name to successfully win two Champions League titles in succession, another record set by them while heading towards the top.
While many in the world applaud Cristiano Ronaldo and the other superstars for all the honours achieved, there is one man that certainly deserves a major chunk of the credit too. Zinedine Zidane is only in his third season as a manager so far, and clearly, it has not taken him long to emerge as one of the best in the business. From being a winner of everything with Madrid in his playing days, Zidane has now continued that trend as a boss, and his efforts deserve the highest praise one can give.
Since his appointment in January 2016, the former French international has guided Real Madrid to 2 Champions Leagues and 1 La Liga – no small feat by any means whatsoever. His terrific double in the 2016-17 season has also seen him become a part of the FIFA Nominations for the Best Coach of the Year award. He completes the trio alongside Antonio Conte and Massimiliano Allegri, giving him good chances of winning the coveted prize.
However, all good things can and do come to an end within the blink of an eye, and such must be the fear in Zidane’s mind at this point of time. No matter how glorious his time as a manager has been so far, everything will be forgotten by the Real Madrid owners and fans if the immediate future does not go according to plan. Bossing a club of such value and stature, and with a few cracks beginning to appear, will the third season prove to be the unlucky one for Zinedine Zidane?
‘Change is the only constant’ is an extremely true phase when used to describe the managers to have come and gone from the helm of the Santiago Bernabeu. Names like Carlo Ancelotti, Jose Mourinho, Rafa Benitez and many more have faced the sack under Florentino Perez in recent years, and one does wonder, will Zidane be lucky enough to be spared, or will the ruthlessness streak continue?
Here are a few reasons that have started to put doubts in the minds of those that were firm followers of Zidane leading the club to everlasting glory:
1. Poor Transfer Handling
Putting utmost trust in the squad you have might be the sign of a good manager, but the failure to add in names that make things better says otherwise. Zidane has failed to make an impact in the transfers during his reign as Madrid boss so far, and that particular problem was evident during the summer window gone by.
Poor decision making and the inability to bring in desired targets was a feature of Madrid’s summer. Kylian Mbappe was a highly sought after target, and despite the striker being a crazy Zidane fan, PSG were the team that managed to sign him. Not only that, but their team’s second highest scorer last season, Alvaro Morata, was allowed to go to Chelsea without an able replacement being brought in.
Add to that the departures of Danilo and James Rodriguez with no star signing creating the news, it spells nothing but disappointment for one of the biggest clubs in the world. Zidane’s bench had an impactful campaign last time around, and with those names heading out, where does the boss turn to now?
2. La Liga
When Barcelona sold Neymar to PSG, and Atletico Madrid shifted to a new stadium to call home, many predicted that the La Liga season of 2017-18 would be nothing but a cakewalk for Zidane and his men. However, it has been anything but that to say the least. With 6 games in, Real Madrid find themselves to be struggling already, and sitting in 4th spot after managing to win only 50% of their games played. Above them lie Sevilla, Atleti, and Barca.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that Ernesto Valverde’s side has won all 6 matches so far, and Leo Messi has scored almost as many goals as Real have this season. Ronaldo’s absence might have had a huge role to play in that, but one player cannot be responsible for the functioning of a team, and Zidane should be acknowledging that.
3. The Under Usage Of Gareth Bale
The minimal or diminished usage of Gareth Bale can be seen as a move that did pay off initially, but is backfiring now. The Welshman has not been a regular for a while now, and that might be affecting the performances and confidence of one of the finest wingers in the world. Real Madrid are blessed to have one of the best trios in the world in the shape of Benzema, Ronaldo and Bale and the absence of the number 11 has made it tough for them to work in tandem. The player might be injury prone but is certainly now not seen as a certified starter by Zidane and that has seen him being linked with a move away from the club.
Karim Benzema is another name that has not been delivering up to his potential, and handing him a stellar 4-year contract in the midst of that might not have been the wisest thing to do.
There is no doubting the fact that Madrid have reached unmatchable heights under their former player guiding them, but all that is now in the past, and the past is something Florentino Perez does not care about. The fans whistling Zidane and his squad off at the Bernabeu in their previous fixture does raise a few eyebrows, and whether the manager will be able to turn around a poor start to the season is something the world is waiting to witness.
The to-be FIFA Manager of the Year, or the to be next manager that will face the sack? Only time will tell.
Written by Vikram Gupta
An attacker with his words, and defends each of them with pride. A love for the game which goes hand in hand with his will to forever write. A graduate in the course of advertising and a hopeful to be author. Herrera for the win.