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5 things that Zinedine Zidane must do to become a success as Real Madrid manager

FEATURED WRITER
Editor's Pick
60.51K   //    10 Jan 2016, 03:45 IST

On the face of it, being made the manager of Real Madrid is one of the best football jobs in the world. But 11 managers in 11 years attest to this particular employment being of the poisoned chalice variety.Zinedine Zidane has been thrown in at the deep end, the supposed “biggest club in the world” relying on a man who is untested managerially at the highest levels of the game. He will command respect being a Los Blancos legend and one of the best players to ever play the game but that won’t be enough.Here are five things he will have to do to become a success at Real Madrid...

#1 Rid the dressing room of egos

The Real Madrid dressing room is notoriously known for its highly volatile nature

If there is one thing that characterises any Real Madrid team, it is the amount of egos that are in play in the dressing room. When compared to Barcelona for example, the difference is stark. Although the Catalans have the likes of Messi, Neymar and Suarez to assuage, all three appear to work in perfect harmony and in an atmosphere that, on the face of it at least, doesn’t appear forced in any way.

Real seemingly have always been a collection of individuals cobbled together to make a winning side. Perhaps that’s as much to do with the club’s Galactico buying policy as anything else but clearly it has led to problems in the past. Problems that still appear to be relevant today.

If Zizou wants harmony at the Santiago Bernabeu, then he needs to make abundantly clear that there is only one boss. And his players are looking at him.

#2 Not be swayed by Florentino Perez

Perez’s constant invasion of the managers’ space is no secret  

Quite possibly the hardest thing of all to achieve. Florentino Perez is an omnipresent figure at Real Madrid and isn’t frightened from letting his managers know when he is dissatisfied or otherwise. From exerting influence by having a say in team selection to taking players aside to remind them of their responsibilities, the president’s penchant for undermining his managers is legendary.

Zidane needs to have the gumption to face up to the may who has given him the biggest of breaks and, frankly, tell it as it is. There is one reason and one reason only why Real Madrid have failed to be as successful as their biggest rivals in over the course of the last decade and that reason is the president himself.

If the Frenchman can persuade his paymaster to take a back seat, in order that he can concentrate solely on matters in hand, then Zidane might just have half a chance at success.

#3 Win a trophy this season

A trophy for Real this season will help him convince the fans of his abilities as a manager  
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It doesn’t matter who is to blame but the fact is the Copa Del Rey isn’t an avenue open to Real Madrid this season. Fielding the ineligible Denis Cheryshev meant that lowly Cadiz were automatically entered into the next round at the expense of Los Blancos, disqualified for their oversight.

It means that only the Champions League and La Liga are possibilities for Zidane in his opening campaign. Two points behind Barcelona at the time of writing and with the Catalans also having a game in hand is a difficult but not impossible task in La Liga. If Real were to win the second El Clasico of the season and other results come and go on a like for like basis, then only two points will separate these two Spanish behemoths.

It’s not beyond the realms of possibility for either to be dropping more points than that between now and the end of the campaign. Time for the all whites to keep the faith.

The Champions League draw has fallen relatively kindly for Zidane, AS Roma not quite the team they once were. No other sides left in the competition will scare Real over two legs either.

#4 Find the right midfield blend

Zidane will have to soon settle on a stable midfield combination 

This could be the conundrum that gives Zidane a few sleepless nights. He’s well set in defence where his only issue is how much to rotate Raphael Varane with one of Pepe and Sergio Ramos. Goalkeeper Keylor Navas is a fixture as are wing backs Danilo and Marcelo.

Up front, there is absolutely no question of the “BBC” taking the three spots when fit and firing. Something that Bale, Benzema and Ronaldo have been doing all season.

The real issue comes between the two, in the middle of the park.

Isco is unhappy and needs to be sold if he is unhappy at an almost permanent tenure on the substitutes bench. Mateo Kovacic also needs to understand his role more fully. The mercurial Croatian talent is simply far too good to be sat on the bench.

Either of those players would naturally replace Luka Modric but the ex-Tottenham man is going nowhere. He continues to oil the wheels of this side. Then we have Casemiro and Toni Kroos. The latter has the experience and nous in the role, but the former has been much more effective this season.

The quicker the situation is clarified and addressed, the better for all concerned.

#5 Sell Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo has been below par with his performances this season and has prompted talks of a decline 

A controversial move potentially but Zidane will know better than most that Cristiano Ronaldo isn't performing at the same level he was last season. No longer the force he once was, it is becoming clearer by the game that the ex-Manchester United man doesn't look at the top of his game. Now 31, Ronaldo has been Real's star man for the past few seasons, but maybe his time at the top is truly now over.

If the intention is to build a team around Gareth Bale in any event, then now or in the summer at the latest are the most opportune times to enter the market. Ronaldo can still command a hefty fee at this moment and there’ll be no shortage of takers. The Red Devils are almost certain to be at the head of the queue for their old boy’s services.

It would open up a spot in the front three and let’s be clear, it will be a huge void that someone has to fill. But the time is right.

No one wants to see the very best stay long after their ship has sailed. Patrons want to remember their idols at their pinnacle. If Ronaldo doesn’t leave soon there’s a very real possibility his crowd will turn on him and Real won’t be as potent an attacking force with him still in situ.

The numbers don’t lie.

#6

Ronaldo has been below par with his performances this season and has prompted talks of a decline 

A controversial move potentially but Zidane will know better than most that Cristiano Ronaldo isn't performing at the same level he was last season. No longer the force he once was, it is becoming clearer by the game that the ex-Manchester United man doesn't look at the top of his game. Now 31, Ronaldo has been Real's star man for the past few seasons, but maybe his time at the top is truly now over.

If the intention is to build a team around Gareth Bale in any event, then now or in the summer at the latest are the most opportune times to enter the market. Ronaldo can still command a hefty fee at this moment and there’ll be no shortage of takers. The Red Devils are almost certain to be at the head of the queue for their old boy’s services.

It would open up a spot in the front three and let’s be clear, it will be a huge void that someone has to fill. But the time is right.

No one wants to see the very best stay long after their ship has sailed. Patrons want to remember their idols at their pinnacle. If Ronaldo doesn’t leave soon there’s a very real possibility his crowd will turn on him and Real won’t be as potent an attacking force with him still in situ.

The numbers don’t lie.

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FEATURED WRITER
Freelance sports journalist. Member of the Sports Journalist's Association, Football Writers' Association and International Sports Press Association.
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