Zinedine Zidane – a new Real Madrid looming?
I would rather give my opinion, and be wrong, than simply sit on the fence. When it comes to Zinedine Zidane, the manager, I have to hold my hands up and admit that I was wrong. I didn’t think he had what it takes to be a good manager, but he’s shown tremendous integrity and quick-learning as Real Madrid manager. I’ve never doubted his intelligence, to be fair, but managing the biggest footballing circus in the world is a challenge that some of the best managers in the world have already failed at, so I feel justified in being cynical to begin with.
I’m really impressed with what he’s done, though. When seeing him on the touchline, I’m reminded of the quote from the movie “Troy”. Agamemnon said this to his advisor, Nestor; “Before me, Greece was nothing. I brought all of the Greek kingdoms together. I created a nation out of fire-worshippers, and snake-eaters! I build the future, Nestor”. In my opinion, that is precisely what Zidane is doing at Real Madrid; he’s galvanising a hot-headed lunatics, massive egos, galacticos, and promising youngsters – and he’s doing it really, really well.
I hope that Real Madrid trust him enough to not sack him for not winning the treble in his first full season. They’re genuinely stupid enough to sack him for that, incidentally, because they’re badly-ran, which is crazy when you think of how big and profitable the club actually is. Giving him time has made Real Madrid a team with a better soul and personality, though, and that’s so important. Before him, they were overpaid mercenaries, and they were horribly imbalanced. With him there, everybody has a role, and a purpose. Everybody puts their back into games. It’s been slow progress, but it’s coming to fruition now.
What I like most about what Zidane is doing is that he’s giving Real Madrid’s kids the chance to impress. What most people tend to forget is that Real Madrid’s academy is actually really, really good. It’s just that the club don’t have the patience to keep managers unless they’re winning everything, so no manager ever had the gall to give kids the chance in the fear of it costing them their job. Subsequently, Real Madrid ended up selling on promising youngsters, and either losing out on them altogether, or re-signing them for substantial sums. Zidane is actually bringing them through, though, and they look superb! The strike that young midfielder Asensio hit in the UEFA Super Cup final against Sevilla CF was out of this world. It required outstanding technique, and he hit it like he’d been doing it at professional level for twenty years! The one that has impressed me the most is one of Zidane’s three sons (all of which are currently at Real Madrid), Enzo. What a player they have in him! He may not physically look like his father, but his touch, aura, awareness, passing, and shooting reminds me of the great man himself so much. He’s been named in their senior squad this season, too, so I expect him to strut his stuff.
By promoting the kids he used to manage at Castilla, Real Madrid have negated the need to splash the cash on new players that they don’t really need. It’s the first transfer window I’ve known where they haven’t signed anyone. To me, that’s the turning of the tide. If they can actually produce their own players for the future, they’ll become as great a club as they once were, both in terms of what they’ve won, and the respect they command. Zidane has worked wonders at the Madrid circus; if they keep him, they look set to return to rival Barcelona properly, which is what most people want, so let’s see if Real Madrid give him the time he needs to make Real Madrid what their fans want them to be once more.