When the news broke that Zinedine Zidane was take up the role of manager at Real Madrid again, many supporters were delighted. The memory of the trophies that the Frenchman steered Los Blancos to win was still fresh in their minds, as was the shock of his sudden departure. So, for many, his return was very welcome news.
But in the Champions League, it looks like he has rather lost that golden touch, so what has gone wrong?
No one player is bigger than the team, no matter how good they are. The same can be said of managers too. No manager is bigger than the club, and perhaps this is where Mr Zidane is going wrong.
If you look back at his surprise departure, we may find a clue. Having led Real to an unprecedented short era of success, culminating in winning a third consecutive Champions League Trophy and another domestic double, Zidane said his decision to leave to because he believed the club needed a new direction and new voice. He said it was nothing to with the players. That may not have been so.
Although in recent months both men have spoken well of each other, there remains a suspicion that there was discord between Zidane and Ronaldo. Many believe it was that discord that let to Ronaldo’s shock decision to leave the Bernabéu.
Most fans would view both Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane as possibly being Real Madrid’s greatest ever players. Yet when The Frenchman was asked to formulate his greatest ever worldwide squad, he included himself but excluded the Portuguese. Instead, he plumped for Neymar, Ronaldo Lima, and Lionel Messi. Surprising, to say the least.
Although there is disagreement among fans about the Ronaldo-Zidane relationship, there can be little doubt about the animosity between Zidane and Gareth Bale. Bale is undoubtedly one of the games’ best players. Despite that fact, the manager has voiced his want on several occasions that the Welsh wizard should leave the club.
When Ronaldo upped sticks and left, it was Bale who was expected to lead Real forward. But Zidane’s reticence to play the striker has left the Welshman feeling very disgruntled. In Real’s recent Champions League game against Club Brugge, it was not only Bale who was absent from the squad but James Rodriguez too.
Los Blancos could only manage a disappointing 2-2 draw. In a dreadful performance by the home side, the absence of both Bale and Rodriguez was a telling one. It was only after the game, amid much criticism that Zidane put their absence down to injury although Bale said he was ready to play.
In a recent interview, soccer pundit Danny Murphy voiced an opinion that Bale should return to Tottenham where he would be much more appreciated. Perhaps he is right?
Unless Zidane is willing to set aside personal problems with players like Gareth Bale and do more to get the best out of struggling Eden Hazard, who Zidane brought in to give the team more attacking options, it could well be that Zidane’s days as manager of Los Blancos are numbered.
Success in La Liga isn’t enough, and with Real having made the poorest start ever in the Champions League, Zinedine Zidane is a manager under pressure. The team must come first, and they need Champions League success. Bringing Bale back into the fold could be his best way out.