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Real Madrid Shouldn’t Thrust Zidane Into The Hot Seat Just Yet

Zinedine-Zidane-et-Carlo-Ancelotti-papierI’m always amused at fans who expect far too much from their clubs.  A case in point this week is Real Madrid.  They qualified for the quarter finals of the Champions’ League, are a single point off the lead in La Liga (albeit with a leakier defence than their Catalan rivals) and yet Carlo Ancelotti has felt the need to apologise to the Madridistas for losing last week’s Champions’ League tie against German club Schalke. 

Fair enough they might have gone out of the Copa Del Rey relatively early on, after a couple of tasty derbies with fellow capital team Atletico, but things are looking pretty good for Los Blancos.  Still the fans are not happy.

It has been rumoured in the past couple of weeks that Madrid’s play-making legend Zinedine Zidane is the fans pick for the new manager.  Whilst it would be a bold choice I believe this would be a disastrous move for both “Zizou” and Real themselves.  To explain why I think so I have listed the 3 most compelling reasons why Carlo Ancelotti, and not Zinedine Zidane, is the right man for the job.

1.       Zidane’s Temper

In his early career he was prone to attack fans whom he felt insulted himself or his family.  He was known to punch opposing players when slighted, and even later on, whilst playing for Juventus, he was disciplined for head-butting Jochen Keinz in a Champions’ League match against Hamburg.  Of course, we all remember the World Cup Final against Italy in 2006 when he sent Marco Materazzi tumbling (albeit dramatically) to the ground.  Throughout his career he has shown flashes of anger which, in a dressing room filled with huge personalities, would cause nothing but friction between himself and his playing staff.  Ancelotti meanwhile has shown throughout both his playing and managerial career that he has a much calmer, considered and (importantly) authoritative approach to the game.  This management style has been shown to get the best out of the Real Madrid players, you just need to check his trophy-laden first season with the club to see that.

2.       Zidane’s Lack of Experience

Carlo Ancelotti’s record speaks for itself: 20 years in the role, 7 clubs managed, 17 major honours including 3 Champions League titles (only the second man ever to accomplish this feat), 2 European Cups and 5 League titles in 3 different countries.  Compare this to Zidane’s record in management.  He is currently the first team coach of Real’s reserves in the Spanish 3rdDivision, he has a win rate of less than 50% of games played and has not won a single honour as yet.  This may seem a little unfair as it is very early days in his managerial career and (as it is rumoured he is being groomed by the Real hierarchy to be a future manager at the Bernabeu) Club President Florentino Perez clearly feels he has a lot to offer, but it is far too early to thrust him into that high-profile and high-pressure a job.

3.       Zidane’s Previous Success

This might sound like a strange reason, but it is well documented how people often become victims of their own success.  Take a look at the English Premier League for recent examples.  Kevin Keegan in his first stint managing at Newcastle United became known as “King Kev” for his brilliant football, attacking flair and most importantly, the results on the pitch.  Robbie Fowler was an absolute scoring machine when he first played for Liverpool and is referred to as “God” by the Anfield faithful.  Both legends at their clubs, both expected to do great things when they came back, both returned with a bang and left shortly after with a whimper.  Zinedine Zidane had a wildly successful playing career.  He is rightly regarding as one of the finest players to ever kick a ball.  His time at Real was one of the most successful in the club’s history and all this has set the expectations of the Madridistas.  They hope that he will replicate this as a manager which, in a world-renowned pressure cooker of a job, will set the bar impossibly high.

I’m sure we all recognise the blinding talent of Zidane the player, but can he translate this into management?  Many have tried and many have failed, but some do succeed.  It is not impossible for “Zizou” to be a success at Real.  Indeed he need only look at long time Madrid rivals Barcelona to see how a successful former player can transition into a successful manager at their club, but only when the time is right.  Only when they are ready.  Which, for me, Zidane is not… yet.

Written by Nicholas who can be found on Twitter @nickijah

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