Yiannis Bouranis writes about Zinedine Zidane’s debut as Real Madrid’s manager, Florentino Perez and the “Whites” former coach, Rafa Benitez.
Let’s take things from the beginning. When Florentino Perez decided to appoint Rafa Benitez (holder of 12 titles in his career) as the club’s manager, both the players and the fans were not in favour of that decision, mentioning that the Spaniard wasn’t Carlo Ancelloti’s ideal replacement.
Consequently, the season started with Benitez being under criticism and pressure for immediate success. Although the administration was saying Benitez was the ideal manager for the team’s bench, things didn’t go well for the experienced coach.
Both the fans and the players quickly lost their faith on the 54-year-old coach and the squad’s mediocre performances (culminating in the 0-4 defeat from Barcelona) made his place more insecure than ever before.
As a result, Benitez was fired one week ago, after the 1-1 draw against Valencia, and the legendary Zinedine Zidane was appointed as the side’s coach. Is Perez’s decision, though, the right one?
The chairman of the “Whites” always wanted everything to revolve around him. Every time Real Madrid was claiming trophies, Perez was taking the credit. But, when the Madrid side was failing to go all the way to the end, it was everybody else’s fault, but Perez’s.
More specifically, the 68-year-old executive wants to intervene in the team’s tactics and, consequently, this makes the manager’s job more difficult.
In Perez’s era, Real has only won seven of the possible 37 titles, while Zidane is the eleventh manager in the 12-year presence of the Spaniard in the club.
His decision to appoint the 43-year-old former player as the club’s coach can be considered controversial, based on the lack of experience Zidane has. However, if the Frenchman fails, Perez will blame everybody else (the players, coach, media, fans), but himself for that.
Zidane’s debut against Deportivo La Coruna was more than ideal. The “Whites” beat their opponents 5-0, making a decent performance after a long time, which boosted the club’s confidence.
The new coach was certainly happy with how things turned out: “The best thing today was that we had the ball possession. We have to improve, though, the recovery of the ball,” said Zidane, who used an entire different playing style than Benitez’s one.
The 43-year-old coach emphasised on the good ball movement and complete balance in transition, while he requested from the team to play with more intensity and self-denial.
Against La Coruna, this plan worked almost perfectly, however that was just the beginning for the Frenchman, as the transition from the academy to the top level will certainly be difficult.
The reason is that Zidane will have to deal not only with the media, but also the fans’ and chairman’s pressure for immediate success (as Real Madrid is still a contender in La Liga and the Champions League), a situation, with which he is totally unfamiliar.
Certainly, Zidane made an explosive start to the team’s bench and boosted everybody’s confidence inside the club. As the following fixtures can be considered relatively easy, it will be ideal for Real Madrid not only to “build” a winning streak, but also (to) enhance their overall performance.
With both the fans and the team being impatient, though, the next few weeks will show whether things have really changed. Until then, Real Madrid can be optimistic that Zinedine Zidane is what the team was really looking for.
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