You are currently viewing Zidane remains the man to lead Madrid’s transition
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Real Madrid fans really can sound like spoiled brats, can’t they? I guess some fans overreact. Heck, some fans probably aren’t reacting enough, at times. But somewhere, in the blurry fine margins of supporting a super-club, is a theme of subtle narcissism. A culture which ultimately boils down to a complex, the constant hunger to be the best, the constant urge to support the team that is always at the top, and you can’t have it any other way. Transition? F*ck the transition, we want silverware, immediately, year after year. This complex where you can’t see your team not winning, if they go through a bad patch, you call for a revolution, from top to bottom, from the president to the medical team, sack the kitchen staff for good measure too, they must be cooking incorrectly, because why isn’t my super-club winning? This constant need for success, leads to a loss of sleep, anger and frustration at those around you. You skip meals because of how your super-club isn’t performing to your lofty standards, week-in week-out, on and off the pitch. Your standards, wanting three or four goals, every game, not thinking logically about how good things come with time, with carefully constructing plans, culminating in silverware, ending with the world’s gaze on your victorious super-club’s players, as they stand atop of the winner’s podium, major trophy lofted above the captain’s shoulders, the podium and players layered in the team’s coloured confetti.

But that’s just the thing, no one cares about the process anymore, it’s all about the end result. Some fans are already thinking about fast-forwarding to the 2022-23 season. Why support a club if you can’t back them during their time of need? I’ve seen fans not care about winning El Clasico, because they would rather the situation gets worse, for it to then get better, I mean, how does that make any sense? Or maybe it does make sense? We have Madrid fans acting as if we’ve gone trophyless for years. A club in transition, a club with a squad nowhere near good enough to compete on all fronts, yet still won two pieces of silverware last season, and had to adapt to do so.

And yet, the same man who was the architect behind the adaptation to win La Liga last season, has suddenly become a target for the fans, they want him gone, immediately. I won’t for a second say you can’t blame Zinedine Zidane. I won’t for a second say you can’t blame Florentino Perez. I won’t for a second say you can’t blame the players. But what I will say, responsibility is shared across the board, they’ve all not delivered in some way, and they all have to improve vastly if Real Madrid are to return to a winner’s podium this season. But we need patience, you need to understand there’s a process.

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Zidane still the man to trust

As a club, Madrid’s biggest flaw over the last two decades has been a lack of continuity with one manager, and with one project. Sacking and replacing managers can lead to positive outcomes, but more often than not, it will have an adverse impact on the squad. This squad is nowhere near the group which the Frenchman wants, and therefore, he’s having to adapt. Not only does Zidane not have the necessary player quality, but the players who are anchors to his plans, haven’t been together for a sustained amount of time for him to work with them and change Madrid’s fortunes on the pitch. It has so often been one step forward, but two steps back. Martin Ødegaard returned, so Federico Valverde got injured. Karim Benzema got injured, so Luka Jovic finally got his opportunity, then he tested positive for Covid-19. It’s just a vicious cycle, Zidane implements a system, they play well, they get some good results, and then bang, the momentum in snatched from beneath them, and it’s back to square one, finding a new way to win, but mostly, through suffering. Now Eden Hazard will miss the majority of December, just when it looked like he was starting to get back into some sort of groove.

Therefore personally, I think it’s way too soon to sack Zidane, and besides, I think the 48-year old is likely to walk out when he feels the time is right, instead of being pushed. Zidane simply hasn’t been backed enough. Now, I know he has his issues, which head coach doesn’t? I certainly think his favoritism with certain players is hampering the youth development of some very talented players. If indeed the Sergio Reguilon and Achraf Hakimi sales were down to him, and weren’t presidentially vetoed financial decisions, then he made big mistakes there. Considering how much he’s having to rotate, and the regularity of muscular injuries, it was a no-brainer to keep both, and offer them regular minutes, but again, there’s always going to be two sides of that argument, what if both players didn’t fancy playing second-fiddle to Ferland Mendy and Dani Carvajal, what if both felt like they should start, and could too, elsewhere?

But those are players now unavailable to Zidane, there are players who are available to him, and yet he continues to ignore them. Jovic, Antonio Blanco, Miguel Gutierrez, Eder Militao and finding the best position for Rodrygo Goes, three of them part of the huge outlay the club put down in the summer of 2019, haven’t really been used a great deal. Even Vinicius Junior is being used sparingly, whenever he was in a purple patch, he wouldn’t get continuity from Zidane, and that really irritates me, because now the 20-year old has forgotten how to dribble, which was his main asset. There’s an argument that perhaps they aren’t good enough for Zidane yet, but if they aren’t, then why sign them, knowing Zidane is in charge? What’s the point of signing players for a manager who won’t use them, if Zidane is a player who wants ready-made players who he can trust, then go out and sign them. I’m not sure how likely this is, but I feel like there are differences between Zidane and Florentino, the latter wants a youth project with the best young talents on the planet, whereas Zidane is more suited to man-managing and getting the best out of ready-made superstars, like he did in his first stint with that golden squad. For me, the jury is still out on that one, I get the impression there is a difference of opinion between the pair on how the transition should go, and soon, a clash of egos could occur, which could see Zidane parting ways for a second time. I hope not though.

The need for a major squad overhaul

If it wasn’t clear last season, in spite of the €355m outlay in the summer of 2019, then it’s crystal clear now, Madrid need a serious injection of quality across the pitch to become a serious football club. If it was up to Zidane, he would sign the players needed for him to take the team back to where it belongs, but he isn’t being backed as he should be.

Florentino really needs to sort this one out, this is all on him. Despite earning around €100m last summer, and saving on over €50m in wages for the season, I don’t understand why he didn’t strengthen the team? I simply can’t accept what his mouthpieces MARCA and AS are telling us on behalf of the club, there’s no way Zidane would have happily accepted that his team didn’t need additions, I refuse to accept that. Madrid didn’t spend a single euro this summer, after winning the league title. Normally, when you win trophies, the sensible thing to do is to improve on that, so you can defend that title and also stand a chance of competing for other titles, but Zidane was left very much in the dark on this one, and that’s on Florentino.

And therefore, the ‘spoiled brats’ which I mentioned, have every right to demand for a massive 2021 window. Kylian Mbappe isn’t even seen as an important signing anymore, he’s now viewed as simply one addition, because we’re so far behind the others. Mbappe can’t be the only one to arrive, you’ve got to sign a midfielder, or two, keeping in mind you can’t lose Eduardo Camavinga to a European rival, so he has to be one of the midfield additions. Then there’s the case of Erling Braut Haaland, who Madrid are courting, of course they are, but as is every other European heavyweight.

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That’s a battle which is unlikely to be resolved in 2021, but it’s a battle which Madrid simply can’t afford to lose in 2022. To sign a potentially decade defining goalscorer for merely €75m, that’s not just a no-brainer, that’s a player you clear deadwood for, and you change your plans to somehow integrate and promise him the project that he wants. There could be other projects which attract Haaland more, but with Ødegaard already at the club, his countryman could be tempted to join him at Madrid if the club put other key pieces together in 2021 beforehand.
The overhaul can’t be complete without sales. Madrid got rid of 17 players this past summer, but will still need to offload the likes of Marcelo, Isco, Lucas Vazquez, Jovic, Mariano Diaz, Dani Ceballos, Jesus Vallejo and Borja Mayoral, and maybe even others, depending on how ruthless you want to be. For example, if they want to sign another young central defender, who makes way, does Nacho Fernandez still work as fourth choice, and is Militao good enough to be third choice? Who comes in as the two deputy full-backs? Are Miguel and Alvaro Odriozola good enough, or do they need to activate Reguilon’s buy-out clause, and then sign a right-back too? These are the decisions which need to be made. Another failed summer transfer window would put Madrid so far behind the likes of Bayern Munich and Liverpool, who both strengthened despite Covid-19.

It really isn’t rocket science as it is being made out to be. Do the right thing Florentino, pull the money out. Back Zidane, give him what he wants, he’ll return the favour in the currency of trophies and success. It’s that simple, for f*ck’s sake.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Roman

    Yes Still Zidane can build Real Madrid, but the club need to sign some good players

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