Zinedine Zidane sent shock waves through the footballing world with his surprise decision to stand down as Real Madrid head coach. The club hastily announced a press conference for 1300 yesterday where the French coach announced his decision. He was flanked by club president Florentino Perez who seemed anguished and visibly distressed by the entire affair. Zidane leaves the club as a winner, securing three Champions League titles in his two and a half years at the helm of the club. In a way it's the perfect time to leave Madrid, with his head held high.
What Zidane does leave behind is a club in plenty of disarray behind the scenes. Cristiano and Florentino are at loggerheads. Bale was unhappy with Zizou and is protected by the president and the Frenchman also felt he had taken the current team as far as he could and that considerable change is needed. The Real Madrid squad is getting on, they failed miserably in the league title race and were eliminated by Leganes in the Copa del Rey, they prevailed in the Champions as there is no getting away form the talented individuals in the squad but it has to be remembered that on many an occasion, this team rode their luck too in securing the '13th'. Florentino left the club previously as he was unable to manage the first generation of Galácticos. Zidane finds himself in the same situation and does what Florentino did in 2006 with the Napoleonic philosophy of: a retreat in time is as good as a victory.
Leave as a hero
I was impressed with Zidane's serenity as he handled his farewell and once it was announced, I could see the reasoning. Some observers may say it was premature and other say this was something that had been bubbling for some time now. Florentino rarely humours his coaches and even more so if that coach is quiet and discreet. Despite all the hyperbole of the 'great Real Madrid' that is banded about in the directors box, the club have come up against coach who has tolerated things until he reaches a point and says 'that's it'. Zidane leaves Real Madrid as a well decorated winner and his replacement will now need to improve on what he has left behind.