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What would Zinedine Zidane do differently at Manchester United?

Paul Benson
3.12K   //    04 Oct 2018, 17:22 IST

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Zinedine Zidane - Manchester United bound?

Real Madrid shocked the world in January 2016 when they appointed their C team boss and former Assistant Coach as Manager to replace the outgoing Rafael Benitez.

Zidane, who had no prior first-team managerial experience whatsoever, was now in charge of the most famous and successful European football club in history. Most observers, naturally, didn't expect him to succeed given the dominance of La Liga rivals Barcelona - as well as his inexperience managing at the top level.

However, any doubts towards his capabilities were soon put to bed when Madrid won 5-0 against Deportivo La Coruna in his competitive debut as boss and he defeated Barcelona 2-1 in his first El Clasico, ending their 39 match unbeaten run.

Zidane's two-and-a-half year tenure as Real boss saw him win an unprecedented three consecutive Champions League titles, in addition to capturing the 2016/17 La Liga trophy too as he captured eight major trophies during this impressive spell.

Manchester United, for all their quality and high-standing reputation as a European powerhouse themselves, would love to achieve even half of that success.

How did Zidane achieve this?

It's a burning question with plenty of backstory attached, not to mention the fact he has no playing nor coaching experience in England's top-flight, and doesn't speak English fluently either.

Zidane was famously a World Cup winner as a player in 1998

Although his critics portray him as tactically naive, the fact is that Zidane's focus is on player effort and mentality.

He is a proponent of active play without the ball, pressing, pacey counter-attacks and finding space. He is keen on ensuring his team plays in such a way which provides them with a numerical advantage on the pitch - demanding they think like winners, which in turn leads them to win.


Most crucially however, is his willingness and desire to attack. The direct opposite mentality to under-fire boss Jose Mourinho, in Manchester currently. During their woeful 0-0 home draw against Valencia on Tuesday, United supporters chanted "attack, attack, attack," but the players rarely did. The side seemed ill at odds with what they were trying to do, caught in two minds over how they should play.

It goes without saying that Jose appears to have completely lost the morale and desire from many first-team players. After all the recent drama reported regarding his fractious relationship with star man Paul Pogba, Mourinho allegedly ranted at his squad for 45 minutes prior to the Valencia game.

Manchester United v Valencia - UEFA Champions League Group H
Working on borrowed time? Jose has alienated a large section of his playing squad

Could he repeat the feat at United in a different league?

That does not seem to suggest a turnaround is imminent. Another key trait in Zidane's success is his man management. Polar opposite to Mourinho's aggressive approach, Zidane is a fatherly, supportive figure to his young players and uses that approach to inspire and get the best from his players.

The Premier League is a different animal to La Liga, where conceivably every team is capable of beating one another. However, there is nothing in Zidane's make up to suggest his style of management would not translate successfully to the Premier League and United in particular.

United is a squad that on paper, possesses a World Cup winner in Pogba, world-class superstars such as Alexis Sanchez and David de Gea and several of the most promising youngsters in World Football in Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford.

If Mourinho is dismissed and Zidane is appointed; there is no reason why the French World Cup winner cannot be a success.