Monday, 4 January 2016

Benitez Baton Passed to Zidane

Real Madrid
Zinedine Zidane was the world’s most expensive player when he arrived at the Bernabéu in 2001 from Juventus, spending five years at the club and winning La Liga and the Champions League. His unforgettable volley at Hampden Park in May 2002 in the Champions League final the highlight of an impressive ccontribution to the club - ensuring he was a fan favourite. .

Since 2014 Zizou has been coaching Real Madrid’s B team chasing his UEFA pro licence to be ready for that day he would take over the number 1 coaching job he had always wished for. Which in theory might have been next season at the earliest

He now gets that opportunity and the former Galactico becomes the 13th permanent manager in the 21st century at Real Madrid having won just one La LIga league title in the previous seven seasons.

Rafa's future was decided at an emergency board meeting on Monday in Madrid with his final act overseeing Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Gary Neville’s Valencia at the Mestalla. A game which saw Real Madrid reduced to 10 men and twice pegged back to a draw that leaves them in third place in La Liga. Four points behind the leaders Atlético Madrid.

During his seven months Benítez struggled to find favour among the supporters, a relationship made worse by the 4-0 home defeat to Barcelona in November’s Clásico. Then persistent rumours of unrest in his squad became more frequent and an indication of increasing player power at the top European clubs. 

Despite that adversity he responded to the speculation on Sunday over his future by saying: “I cannot prevent speculation about whether I continue, but I can make the team work as it has today. We were capable of getting the three points.

“With 10 players we had to make an effort, and the team has done. We can only regret that after going 2-1 ahead, we conceded in the next minute. Maybe we were lacking a bit of concentration after we went 2-1 up or maybe the opposition reacted very well.”

The club captain Sergio Ramos also spoke after the Valencia match and gave his public backing to the under-fire manager. He told Movistar: “Benítez has credit in the bank. Whoever the coach is, we’ll always get behind them.”

Well Sergio the credit seemingly ran out with the club president, Florentino Perez it seems this week, and  a man never visibly comfortable with the appointment. Even from the outstet last June.

On the otherhand for Benitez it was stuff of dreams as he returned to his home town and the club where he plied his trade in the junior ranks and discovered Raul Gonzalez. All the makings of a fairy tale having been the equivalent of Zidane in his first professional managerial sortee. 

However seven months later it has all come to a sudden end with Benitez returning to his home on the Wirral Pennisula with much sadness no doubt.

His return to Real Madrid proving to be a personal nightmare.

For Zidane the time has come to move from being the legendary former player and earn a reputation in management. No tougher place to start your apprenticeship than at the Santiago Bernabeu.

May the force be with you Zizou.


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