Real Madrid should persevere with Zinedine Zidane
Real Madrid will look back at the first half of 2017 with fond memories, but the same cannot be said of their second half showing. Having struggled to maintain consistency both in Europe and in Spain, Real have rarely looked like the side that hoisted the Supercopa de España in August following a tremendous 5-1 aggregate win over their rivals FC Barcelona.
Now, halfway through the season following a crushing El Clasico loss at the Bernabéu, talks have begun to surface about Zinedine Zidane's inevitable axe from the job should Real's worrying form continue into the new year.
Logically speaking, the easy choice would be to oust Zidane and appoint a suitable replacement. However, I would strongly advice against this. For a club which have gone through 12 managers since the turn of the century (Zizou being the 13th), what they require now probably more than anything is continuity in the managerial position.
With all his exploits on the pitch, Zidane embellished himself among the pantheon of footballing greats whilst becoming one of the greatest players to don the Los Blancos shirt, having famously scored a thunderous volley to secure La Novena in the 2002 Champions League final. I would argue that few people in the world can walk into the Madrid dressing room and earn the respect of his players and staff without having to utter a single word.
There is an argument to be made that a manager at Madrid need not be a master tactician, he/she mainly needs to be a man manager, keeping all the big names happy and playing a couple of ace cards when the need arises, and to that extent Zizou has been brilliant, regularly rotating his star players and even resting Ronaldo to good effect.
While we're on the subject, there has understandably been extensive talk over Zidane's lack of tactical knowledge and know how, which to an extent is true, but given his limited time and experience in the job, why should that count against him? One must take into consideration the fact that Zidane has been in his position for just short of two years; in managerial terms, he is still a fledgling.
For all their noteworthy accomplishments, the likes of Jose Mourinho, Sir Alex Ferguson and Pep Guardiola were all novices at one point. You don't arrive at the peak in one swell swoop. It takes months, sometimes years of failure, research, experience, training and hard work to get to be the best. I'm sure the aforementioned managers would attest to that. Given time, support and adequate resources, I am firmly of the opinion that Zidane is the right man to marshal Real Madrid for the foreseeable future.
In addition to this, Zidane's track record is compelling. In just under 24 months since he was thrust into the helm at Madrid, he has picked up a staggering eight trophies, which includes two Champions League crowns and a La Liga title amongst others. This prodigious success has already made him the second most accomplished manager in Madrid's history behind Miguel Muñoz. It is also worthwhile to keep in mind that Real achieved a record-breaking 40 match unbeaten streak as well as a 73 match scoring streak under Zidane.
As of the 17th of December, here are some incredible stats:
The stats alone (arguably) warrant the need for Zidane to stay. However, it can be argued that stats solely cannot be used to define a player/manager any more than a car can be judged based on its paint scheme, mainly because they don't portray the whole picture. Nevertheless, they cannot be ignored. Zidane has done a stellar job in the limited time provided to him and Madrid and their fan base would do well to remember that now in the midst of this rough patch.
In a few months' time, the dust will have settled and all the poor results will have been put behind them and Madrid will have become the top-notch team that we all know they can be, and when all is said and done, hopefully, it'll still be Zinedine Zidane leading them from the touchline.