The French tactician has been re-appointed at the helm of the 13-time European Champions and he has many issues to deal with.
In the late hours of Monday, it was confirmed that Zinedine Zidane will again take the position of the manager at Real Madrid, replacing Santiago Solari with immediate effect. A short glance in the recent past would justify this move, as it was under Zidane’s leadership that enabled Real Madrid to win a mind-blowing three consecutive UEFA Champions League trophies along with other honours.
He had resigned from the post after securing the third UCL title, citing it as the “right time” to step down. Although, since his departure, the Spanish giants have nosedived in terms of results and form under Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari. Zidane is brought back in by Florentino Perez to fix the prevalent problems and bring back the glory days for the Los Blancos.
However, it will not be an easy stroll back in for the French gaffer, as he will be faced with some gripping issues that have plagued the club since he left. Therefore, we take a look at the five challenges that Zinedine Zidane will be faced with at Real Madrid.
5. To complete pending big-name signings
When Cristiano Ronaldo left before the start of the current campaign, it was believed that players like Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio will finally take up the mantle and be the star-man for the club. However, Madrid have sorely missed Ronaldo’s incredible goal-scoring feats and have struggled to fill the gaping hole left by the departure of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Real Madrid are reportedly going to provide a £300m kitty for Zinedine Zidane to rebuild the squad and sign the players who have been on Madrid’s shortlist for some time. Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Tottenham Hotspur’s Christian Eriksen are front runners that are going to be pursued by the club in the upcoming summer transfer window.
Eden Hazard will be a transfer target for Real Madrid in the summer transfer window.
Some ludicrous reports of a £250m+ move for Neymar Jr are also doing the rounds. However, considering the pre-existing debts and the financial atmosphere, the club will do well to avoid paying such gigantic fees & wages and must work towards building up profits that will help in the smooth operating of the club in the long run. Developing youngsters and selling them off to create the funds for big-name signings could be a move that Zinedine Zidane might consider.
4. Finishing the season above Atletico Madrid while simultaneously assessing the youngsters.
As far as the La Liga is concerned, it’s almost a lost cause as FC Barcelona have accumulated 63 points – a lead of 12 points with 11 games to go from the third-placed Real Madrid who are on 51 points. Although, the second-placed Atletico Madrid are well within reach for The Galacticos with only 5 points separating the two Madrid clubs. It will be a challenge for Zidane to finish above the city rivals as it’s a matter of personal pride.
Moreover, Zidane can use this opportunity to bring the youngsters to the fore as there is no pressure of winning the title.
This can be a perfect assessment period where the gaffer can analyse the best youngsters who can play a bigger role at the club from the next campaign. Players like Brahim Diaz, Sergio Reguillon and Marcos Llorente among others will be rubbing their hands looking for more starts and proving their worth. Perhaps it is time to drop the policy of Galacticos and develop young players. This will work wonders financially too, as the club will save paying hefty fees and will be able to perfectly utilise the incredible youth talent they have at their disposal.
3. Solving personnel problems
One of the key issues that has derailed the club this season is the frequent issues regarding players. The recent bust-up between club captain, Sergio Ramos and Marcelo is an example of how player tantrums have been making the headlines.
Another individual that has been on the receiving end of criticism from all fronts is Gareth Bale. The Welshman has been constantly jeered by the club faithfuls and has cut a dejected figure in the dugout. Football pundits have also criticised the winger of not committing to the club, citing not learning Spanish as one of the examples. Bale might benefit from the appointing of the 46-year-old manager and reignite his career.
Will Gareth Bale reignite his career at Real Madrid under Zinedine Zidane?
Marcelo and Isco were two other players that were sidelined by Santiago Solari and the rumours have been suggesting that Marcelo has verbally agreed to join Juventus in the summer and Isco, who has barely had a look-in the starting lineup, is one of the top transfer targets for English champions, Manchester City.
It will be a challenge for Zinedine Zidane to fix these issues at the earliest and cement his plans for the next season, as to which players must be retained and who needs to be moved on. With a reliable figure at the helm in Zidane, the player egos will most probably settle down.
2. Getting the crowd to back the players again and reinstalling Santiago Bernabeu as a fortress
Real Madrid supporters have been frustrated to no ends this term. After being treated to trophies after trophies in the last few seasons, it was a hard fall from grace for the club. Real Madrid have lost a massive eight games at home in all competitions with the recent run of four consecutive home defeats as a damning stat that saw them getting eliminated from Copa Del Rey and the Champions League at the hands of FC Barcelona and AFC Ajax respectively.
As an obvious reaction, the home crowd has become a volatile space where the players are constantly jeered. Reinstalling Santiago Bernabeu as a fortress is one of the main tasks for Zidane coming in, who needs to regain the lost faith among the fans and make them back the players again – in victory or defeat. Improving the home form will be the first step in that direction.
1. Bringing stability to the team lineup and formation
Constant managerial changes harm the balance of the team as it goes through a myriad of system changes brought in by the manager to suit his liking. Same is the case with Real Madrid, who have been altered between different systems under Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari.
Zidane preferred a 4-1-2-3 formation before his departure that suited the players perfectly. Lopetegui came in and shifted it to a 4-2-3-1 and Solari preferred a 4-3-3 formation. Along with ever-changing formations, lineups were also under constant rotation.
With no specific roles on the field and no specific system to adhere to, players felt out-of-place which led to errors and negative results. The first step Zidane needs to take is to employ a consistent formation and specified roles for players like Casemiro, Asensio and Nacho among others.
A stable backline is also required to prevent the leaking of goals. He will also look to rotate and rest some key stars like Luka Modric, Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos who have looked exhausted and utilise the young talent as already mentioned.
Exciting times are ahead for the supporters of Real Madrid, who will be hoping that Zidane is the saviour that ignites a good run-in to a heavily disappointing campaign.