What I like about Zidane is his calm manner and his optimism. He gives the impression that he considers every storm to be just one in a teacup. The latest being the situation with Bale, which has ended up turning the spectacular performances of the second string players into a case against him, and he doesn't know if he'll carry on at Real Madrid next season, but he feels fine: 'de puta madre', bloody brilliant, an expression that comes right from the heart. It's a phrase, Hermel told me yesterday, that doesn't have a true equivalent in French. 'De puta madre' implies being utterly at peace with one's life, with the moment, with one's situation. In the mouth of a Frenchman it sounds like a tribute to our language.
Zidane is feeling great
Zidane's laid back approach hides the fact that he's a dynamic competitor. He played Bale as a sop to the president but it backfired, he's lost the advantage he had over Barcelona, he has two games against Atlético Madrid just around the corner, but he feels so good he has no other way of saying it. He's got a squad of very good players, but it lacks the necessary balance; Casemiro and Marcelo have no back-up, while James, Isco, Asensio and Lucas Vázquez don't have a place. But he copes with it all, like a juggler with 25 oranges up in the air, and if one drops, like it did the other day with Bale, well he picks it up, smiling, as if nothing had happened.
Real Madrid's 'B' team
The relaxed passion he exudes is useful for him, without a doubt, in what is a very difficult job. Rodney Marsh once said all a coach has to do is keep 11 footballers happy: the 11 substitutes. The other 11 are already happy because they are playing. Zidane is managing that problem, just look at how the 'B team' perform when they play. If they play like that it's because they're training well, because they're happy with their day to day lives, over and above any unfair treatment, which they understand they have to overlook. Zidane watched them in Riazor, as he did in Gijón, Eibar and Leganés, and enjoyed the show. And as he's a competitor and he's excited about the season's run-in, he's happy as Larry. Bloody brilliant.