LaLiga 2018-19: 4 immediate steps Zidane should take to restore Real Madrid's glory
Julen Lopetegui Santiago Solari
After a 10-month long hiatus, Zinedine Zidane has returned to the Santiago Bernabeu. This follows a shoddy string of results which ended in Los Blancos being knocked of the UEFA Champions League and Copa del Rey, all in a week's time.
After Miguel Munoz, Zidane is the second most successful manager at Real Madrid, winning 9 trophies - 1x La Liga, 1x Supercopa de Espana, 3x UCL, 2x UEFA Super Cup, 2x FIFA Club World Cup. The 46-year-old Frenchman has now penned down a contract which will see him stay at the club until 2022, and one of his vital challenges will be to revamp the falling squad.
With this move Zidane has joined the illustrious ranks of gaffers who returned to their former side - Jose Mourinho, Jupp Heynckes, Kenny Dalgish, Fabio Capello, Marcello Lippi and Kevin Keegan.
The talking point however lies in whether or not Zidane can replicate his first spell's accomplishment in the Spanish capital. It'll require a monumental effort to attain the same kind of dominance this time around.
Let's look at four major issues that Zidane needs to focus on.
#1. Reviving the confidence and unity among the squad
Many Spanish tabloids have come up with stories about the apparent dressing room rift in the Real Madrid camp. Gareth Bale has been a subject of a banter in the past few weeks, with him being reportedly unhappy at the public criticism he has faced from team mates Marcelo, Courtois and Vazquez.
Elsewhere, reports have also suggested that club captain Sergio Ramos has had altercations with president Florentino Perez.
Whatever has been going on at the club privately, Zidane needs to create a sense of unity as quickly as possible, as he is determined to revamp the current deadwood situation. On the basis of his player management skills, Zidane very much appears to be the man to administer that.
#2. Long-term replacement of Ronaldo
One of the primary headaches for Zidane has to be the situation involving Cristiano Ronaldo's future heir at the club. Zidane is about to begin his second stint at the club at a time when Ronaldo is no longer a Real player. That's the most notable difference betwixt the club he left and the one where he is making a comeback.
Transfer gossip has linked Eden Hazard, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar to make up the Ronaldo void, but ultimately it's the gaffer and the board who'll make the decision. Mariano Diaz was bought back from Lyon to fill Ronaldo's shoes, but eventually that backfired as he barely got minutes under Solari.