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Zinedine Zidane back in Madrid spotlight

Zidane's managing experience is limited to Real Madrid's B team. Photo courtesy: Iran Daily
Zidane's managing experience is limited to Real Madrid's B team. Photo courtesy: Iran Daily
Zidane’s managing experience is limited to Real Madrid’s B team. Photo courtesy: Iran Daily

Call it the romance of football. Call it fate. Call it the circle of life. Call it anything you wish, for there will never be enough words to describe what happened at the Bernabeu on Monday. Zinedine Zidane is Real Madrid manager.

Forget the fact that Rafa Benitez was unceremoniously dumped after exactly seven months in charge, exactly six weeks after club president Florentino Perez said he had no plans of sacking the manager, and exactly two weeks since Perez told a radio station the Spaniard was the “solution” and not the “problem”.

Forget the fact that Gareth Bale, Madrid’s most expensive import, is now likely to look for other job avenues, given his close relationship with Benitez.

Forget the fact that Zidane himself, the great footballer he was and probably still is, has next to nothing as far as a managerial resume is concerned.

All that matters is Zizou is back in the limelight he so exquisitely relished in his playing days.

At an evening press conference in a packed VIP section of the stadium, Perez told the media: “I want to announce we have decided to name Zinedine Zidane as our new coach. He is without doubt one of the greatest figures in the history of football. He knows better than anyone what it means to be at the head of Madrid’s first team squad. He knows how hard this challenge is but how exciting it is too.

“He knows a lot of the players too from the 10th [European Cup] in Lisbon [when Zidane was assistant to Carlo Ancelotti]. He has always taken on the greatest challenges in football with talent and effort.”

Then, he turned to Zidane in a way one would turn to a messiah: “This is your stadium and your club and you have all our confidence and trust to make the fans excited once more. It makes me proud because I know that for you the word impossible does not exist.”

Indeed, impossible does not exist in the Zidane’s lexicon. To what else would one ascribe the Frenchman’s venerable bank of talent, those audacious touches, that ball control and that prescient vision?

Zidane: Expectations

Already, Madrid’s newest coach is speaking of at least one trophy. And coming from the mouth of the club’s greatest son, those words will be like manna for fans. But all said, his appointment to Real Madrid’s top job comes with massive risk. Zidane hardly has the experience that will prepare him for his new role.

Zidane is accustomed to pressure. He knows what carrying the hopes and dreams of his team, his club and his supporters feels like. He has been there, done that. But he has never had the experience of translating his vision to a team of players under him at the highest level. The only bullet point on his work experience column is managing Madrid’s B team in the second division of La Liga, where his side are placed second in Segunda B.

However, Zidane brings with him a sense of invincibility and respect. If anyone can tower over the inflated egos of some of the world football’s biggest names in the dressing room, it is Zidane.

His predecessors – Benitez, Carlo Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho – were proven title winners. Zidane is one, too. And if he can translate his nous as a player to his new role, only great things await Real Madrid.

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