The Madrid-Barca Axis: Why Zidane is starting to find his mojo as Real Madrid’s Gaffer

Andy’s latest “The Madrid-Barca Axis” column. 

With great power comes great responsibility as Stan Lee famously penned in one of his many Spiderman comics.

Being the head coach of Real Madrid, one of the most influential, powerful and successful sides in world football, Zinedine Zidane is learning that this quote is undeniably true.

Less than a year into his tenure at the club, having already won the Champions League for a record 11th time, his methods are being questioned having drawn two games in a row.

He is of course not the first coach to be doubted in recent times and the criticism and demands of coaching Real Madrid is one that has tested the patience of many.

What seems so ludicrous though is that the recent doubts regarding his ability to organise his side comes only a month after they broke a club record of 16 wins in a row domestically.

Whilst dropping points can be crucial in a league that is normally dominated by three teams it is still incredibly early in the season.

Having played for the club between 2001 and 2006 Zidane returned in 2010 as an advisor. By 2013 he was Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant and his rise to first team coach was inevitable.

In 2014 he was appointed the coach of the Castilla and a pattern witnessed at Real’s most bitter rivals, Barcelona, was beginning to appear.

Pep Guardiola became the Barcelona B team coach in 2007 and then the head coach of the full side in 2008. The next four years brought unprecedented success for the Catalan club.

Despite Zidane’s incredible playing career there are never any certainties that being a coach will bring the same success.

Some struggle to cope with not being a player any more whilst others place seemingly unobtainable demands on themselves to succeed which sometimes brings about failure.

However, after almost six years behind the scenes he was fully ready to accept the challenge following Rafael Benitez’s sacking.

Any side that boasts the talents of Karim Benzema, James Rodriguez and Cristiano Ronaldo should be fun to manage. Creatively it must have been incredibly exciting for the players to listen to Zidane’s ideas and tactics.

Winning the Champions League last season was a spectacular start for Zidane’s coaching career but it also meant that expectations were sky high before the season began.

Failure is something that doesn’t sit well with Los Blancos and the fans, particularly at home games, let their feelings be known as soon as they are displeased.

What the fans need to appreciate though is that it takes time to stamp your authority and style upon a club.

With players like Ronaldo who can win games on his own at any stage of the game it relies on a coach who can coax the best from their stars and also their emerging players.

He has introduced some younger players into the squad as well as relying heavily on his experienced ones.

The form that Real clicked into towards the end of the season made them an unstoppable force and whilst Zidane has not imposed a style the same way Guardiola did they both won a European Cup at the end of their first season in charge.

They have dropped points in the last two games but a sense of perspective is needed.

Titles can certainly be lost in the early stages of any season, but they cannot be won and Real have plenty of time to correct things.


Written by Andy Hunter

Follow Andy on Twitter @hunter67980

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