Dubai: Zinedine Zidane’s decision to retake the Real Madrid hot seat only 10 months after he departed the Bernabeu shows his love for the club and his desire to get them back to the top — where they “belong” according to President Florentino Perez.
The fans of Los Blancos welcomed their triple Champions League-winning hero home with open arms after his announcement on Monday night, looking forward to an end to the misery that has seen them humiliated by arch-rivals Barcelona in La Liga and Copa del Rey, and humbled by a young Ajax side, who sent them spinning out of Europe’s elite competition last week.
History tells us, however, that homecomings are not always happy for managers. Real are in a very fragile state right now and the road to recovery is likely to be a long one for a club and set of supporters so used to winning.
we need look no further than Jose Mourinho to see how things can turn sour.
Never afraid to blow his own trumpet, the Portuguese arrived at Chelsea amid much fanfare in 2004, declaring himself the “Special One” after winning the Champions League with Porto the previous season. He claimed two Premier League titles, two League Cups and one FA Cup during that first stint but departed in 2007 as a distinct dip in form and a reported falling out with owner Roman Abramovich hastened his departure.
After more success with Inter Milan and Real Madrid, Mourinho returned to Chelsea in 2013, where despite winning the league again, things rapidly disintegrated, with dressing-room rebellions and more rifts with the owner saw him unemployed before the end of 2015.
Plenty other managers such as Jupp Heynckes, Kenny Dalglish, Fabio Capello and Marcello Lippi have also had less-than-stellar returns to clubs they previously coached across Europe’s top leagues.
If he wants to avoid a similar fate, Zidane will need to move quickly to restructure an ageing and rudderless team under first Julen Lopetegui and then Santiago Solari since the Frenchman’s departure. When he took over the first time around, Real were at the top table in Europe and Zidane built on a strong Cristiano Ronaldo-led squad to take them to those three European titles.
He will have a much-depleted set of players at his disposal now as CR7 has headed to Juventus and many senior men, such as Sergio Ramos, Karim Benzema and Luka Modric, are not getting any younger. Another ‘Galactico’ Gareth Bale has been increasingly unsettled and may soon be on his way back to the Premier League.
All talk is of bringing in Chelsea’s Eden Hazard as the frontman the side desperately need, but he will not come cheap and more firepower than just one new recruit will be required. Other suggested candidates include Paris St-Germain duo Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, and all sorts of records will have to be shattered if Zidane is to land all three.
One thing that will not be in question is Zidane’s passion and energy for the task ahead. “Since I love the president, and the club, I am here,” he declared on Monday. “After eight months, I want to coach again.”
Good luck ZZ, you will need it — and Perez’s chequebook.