Real Madrid won the 2017 UEFA Super Cup under the managerial direction of Zinedine Zidane, who has been very successful since he took over as the coach of the capital club last year. And should the retired French international continue winning more trophies with Madrid : he would be trailing the footsteps of a select list of coaches who recorded great successes at the very inception of his managerial career.
Zizou is turning out to be an exception to the rule – that great players don’t turn out to be great managers . In fact, Zidan’s current Madrid team has won the trophies he himself won as a player at Real Madrid.
However, critics are wont to discount Zidane’s success at Real Madrid by arguing that he owes his achievements to the super-talented players at his disposal in the club. That sort of argument does not hold water because there are so many factors that come into play for a team to be very successful in the football pitch.
It must not be forgotten that Jose Mourinho had a lot of talented players at his disposal in his three seasons at Madrid, but was unable to take the club to the level of success they have achieved under the one-and-half season under Zidane. Rafa Benitez, another veteran football tactician, did not even complete a season in Real Madrid before he got the sack. It cannot be said with certainty that Zidan’s understanding of the tactical aspect of the game is superior to that of Mourinho, Benitez, Manuel Pelligrini and other former coaches of the world-renowned club who were all prematurely relieved of the managerial duties at the club.However, Zidane has certain qualities that made him succeed where others failed.
At this juncture, the searchlight of inquiry will be directed unto the factors that have made Zidane very successful in his short period as Real Madrid’s coach.
His Staggering Achievements as a Player Command the respect of his Players
Only few coaches and players have a resume replete with so much achievements in their football careers as Zidane; in the current Real Madrid team, Cristiano Ronaldo comes close with his superior numbers of Ballon d’Or awards, but Zizou still eclipses the Portuguese striker’s achievements with his lone World Cup medal.
Zidane’s illustrious career as a footballer means he definitely commands the obedience and respect of his player, as it is always the case in a relationship between students and a highly cerebral pedagogue. It can be imagined the highly tuned perceptive minds with which his players would take in his instructions during training sessions ; and it not unlikely that there are players in his current Madrid squad who were in fact huge admirers of his football style in his active days ; and such players would, without a doubt, find training sessions under him a very worthwhile exercise.
To buttress the foregoing point, it has to be recalled that certain coaches have been taunted by few dissenting players that their lack of spectacular achievements as players make them unfit to be sound coaches. Such criticism can never be leveled against Zidane, who is considered in certain circles as one of the best players that ever played the game of football. In a word; Zidane, due to his great achievements as player, is not only able to command obedience of his players but he is also able transmit positive energy into his team due to his vast knowledge of the game.
Being a Superstar in his playing days enables him to manage Egos
One unique character of Real Madrid teams of the past and present is the high quality of players in them. And the immediate challenge of having such an assemblage of super-rich and famous personalities at the club is the task of managing the conflicting egos that is bound to exist amongst them.
They are even many coaches who lost their jobs in recent times because they were at cross-purposes with their star-players who became to problematic to manage.
It is a known fact that the primary reason Jose Mourinho was sacked at Real Madrid was because of the simmering tension between him and certain players, a crisis that later made the entire dressing room so toxic that the Portuguese tactician had to be relieved of his duty.
Zidane having played football at the highest level has in-depth knowledge of the temperament of star players, having been one himself. His insight into the very nature of a superstar makes him a good manager of players of that ilk. He is also able to empathize with talented players better than any coach who never achieved great success as a footballer.
The Cordiality of his Association with the club’s management
Every football club has certain values and ethos that are very unique to it. This is especially true in football clubs that have turned out over the years to be the hub of the cultural life in the cities they are situated. Most coaches that have no prior association with a football club find it extremely difficult to key into the cherished values of that club immediately they are appointed.
Zidane did not only play for Real Madrid but he also became an ambassador of the club, a youth coach and an assistant to the senior team over the years. Zizou’s long-established relationship with Real Madrid gives him a detailed understanding of how the club’s bureaucratic engine functions. He is a figure the more permanent members of staff of Real Madrid are very familiar with, and this makes him a direct stakeholder in the club’s affairs. The harmonious working relationship between him and the management of the club has undoubtedly played a part in the success he has achieved in the club.
His Humility to Learn
Zidane’s managerial career at Real Madrid is similar to that of Pep Guardiola in his early days at Barcelona. Both coaches upon retirement went to the youth teams of their former clubs to learn the act of coaching. Zidane was able to drop his ego and serve as assistant to both Carlo Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho when both coaches were at the helm of affairs in Real Madrid. During these periods of apprenticeship, it all too evident that Zidane was able learn from the strength and weaknesses of both coaches while he was fashioning out his own tactical methods. It also highly probable that Zizou had been studiously learning the act of coaching even in his playing days. It is not unlikely that the methods he employs in Real Madrid at present are a careful blend of those his former coaches had employed when he was a player.
Zidane has recorded remarkable success in the less than two years he has been at Real Madrid, and if he continues with the assiduous ways he goes about his task there is no doubt that he is going to win more trophies in the near future. However, the world of football is such an uncertain place that a club can experience a reversal of fortunes in a short space of time, not primarily because of lack of application on the part of the coach and players but due most times to the improvements of rival clubs. As it stands now, only the future will tell how Zidane’s managerial career would turn out, but so far he has done enough for his praise to be sung by all sincere and dispassionate followers of the game.