By Darren Casserly
There’s a saying in football “never go back” and for the most part it’s true. Whether it’s Mourinho at Chelsea or Keegan at Newcastle, the second stint for the most part has only served to sour the legacy.
However, saying this, never has a manager returned to the same club after only a few months and after winning five trophies, including three consecutives Champions League in only two and a half years in charge.
One of Zidane’s first jobs will have to be trying to control the “changing room politics” that have overshadowed the club this season. It seems as if every little rift or disagreement between the players is made public.
Instances like these is one of the main differences we’ve seen between Madrid and Barcelona in terms of how both teams are run over the last number of years. Even after Madrid winning their third Champions League in a row, the talk in the media instantly changed from talking about an unprecedented achievement into one about what club Ronaldo was joining, and disagreements between Zidane and the Madrid boardroom.
Meanwhile, at Barcelona there are never any reports of disagreements between players or unhappy players. It will be essential to try and keep all of this news private. One of the other aspects of the changing room politics in Madrid is the ring leaders in the squad, more senior players such as Sergio Ramos and Marcelo who have in the past got managers sacked and who reportedly got Zidane his job back.
One of the biggest deciders into whether or not Zidane’s second spell will be a success will be in the player recruitment and squad overhaul.
The current Madrid squad is filled with players who are past their primes and constantly underperforming, with one of the main culprits being Karim Benzema. He has only scored 29 league goals in the last three seasons, hardly good enough to lead the line of one of the most prestigious clubs in world football.
Another criminally underperforming players in Zidane’s side is Madrid’s most expensive signing, Gareth Bale. If the reports are to be believed over the reason for Zidane’s first departure, it was that Zidane wanted to keep Ronaldo and let Bale go, but the Real Madrid president Florentino Perez wanted it the other way, forcing Zidane’s exit.
However, like nearly everyone predicted, Gareth Bale is nowhere near the player Ronaldo is and has even fallen out of the first eleven this season. As well as this, one of Bale’s teammates recently said in an interview that Bale still doesn’t know any Spanish after nearly six years in Spain, which would undoubtedly annoy his team mates.
He is also known as the “golf guy” around the club, as he shows more interest in golf than football, which again is making him unpopular in the Madrid dressing room and leaving the team without a talisman.
The start of next season will determine whether or not Zidane will succeed with Madrid. While there is still a strong squad at Real, they are nowhere near their competitors either domestically or continentally. There are many weak areas in the team as well as far too many talented players, such as Isco and James Rodriguez, being underutilised while the squad is not strong enough to cope with the losses.
As well as this, there hasn’t been a traditional Real Madid “Galáctico” signing since James Rodriguez in 2014, and if reports are to be believed the next transfer window will be massive for the club, with players such as Kylian Mbappé, Paul Pogba and Eden Hazard all linked heavily with Madrid.
If they can secure the signing of a couple of these players as well as getting rid of some of the higher paid underperformers like Benzema, Marcelo and Bale, then it could very well be a successful second stint for Zidane.
Image: Антон Зайцев [CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL] via Wikimedia Commons