With Zinedine Zidane Gone, What’s Next?

Zinedine Zidane
KIEV, UKRAINE - MAY 26: Head coach Zinedine Zidane (C) and his assistants Hamidou Msaidie (L) and David Bettoni of Real Madrid celebrate with The UEFA Champions League trophy following their sides victory in the UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Liverpool at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium on May 26, 2018 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Real Madrid via Getty Images)

So after two and a half years and an astounding nine total trophies, Zinedine Zidane has decided to leave his post as manager of Real Madrid. The former French superstar goes out on top after capturing his third UEFA Champions League title in a row. He also won their first league & UCL double in over 50 years last season.

What Should Real Madrid Do in the Wake of Zinedine Zidane’s Departure?

The End of an Era

Zinedine Zidane has said since he took the job that managers do not last long at clubs like Real Madrid. There is too much pressure, too much scrutiny and too many people invested in the outcome of each game. The job gives you so much stress that you can’t last, very similar feelings to that of Pep Guardiola when he left Barcelona.

And Zidane knows better than almost anyone, great players need different voices. The days of managers like Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsène Wenger lasting as long as they did are long gone. At the top level in 2018, managers can’t last like that, there is too much pressure and too much coverage to last that long.

But Zinedine Zidane leaving should signal that an era might be coming to an end. None of Madrid’s regular starting 11 is under the age of 25. Ronaldo is 33, Ramos 31, Modric 32 and Marcelo 30, their careers have seen the best and will soon begin to descend. There are few things worse in sports than coaching an ageing superstar. Good thing the next Madrid manager will have to coach ELEVEN!

Next Man Up

So who will be Real Madrid’s next manager? The candidates seem to be a strange bunch; names like Arsène Wenger, Antonio Conte, Max Allegri and Joachim Löw seem to be the betting favourites. Maurizio Sarri and Guti, Madrid U19 coach, deserve a shout as well. They might even be better managers for the club than the four favourites.

Conte and Allegri are both great drill sergeants and defensive thinkers. They make their teams work and are also tactically sound. Ask Rafa Benitez or Jose Mourinho how easy it is to be a taskmaster at Real Madrid. Those players have far too much bravado for a coach like Conte or Allegri to work well without clashing big time.

Wenger and Löw are better suited for a job like this, though there are questions about their effectiveness. Both are very good man managers. However, it would be hard to keep the players in line. Imagine Arsène Wenger trying to lecture Ronaldo on something that he thinks could win the Champions League. Again ask Rafa Benitez how well that will go.

It feels like the next Real Madrid manager will have no choice but to fail. With an ageing core of players, added onto win or get fired expectations, it’s hard to see whoever gets hired lasting more than just next year. Much like Barcelona after Pep Guardiola walked away this Madrid team will need to fail in order to hear what a new coach has to say.

Picking the Right Coach

As for who is the favourite to land this job? Either Löw or Allegri would be the most likely. If Germany manage to win another World Cup, expect Florentino Perez to work hard to make Löw his next coach. Arsène Wenger wants the job, and Perez has flirted with him in the past, but right now that looks a bad match.

Wenger tends to give his players too much leeway, which is not what this Real Madrid team needs. Sometimes a team needs a drill sergeant, sometimes they need a gentle hand. But this group of players seem like they would need a little of both and that is extremely hard quality to find in anyone.

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