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Real Madrid: Zidane banishes the spectre of Mourinho

Zinedine Zidane's return to Real Madrid banishes the spectre of José Mourinho, who a jittery Florentino Pérez had been toying with bringing back in recent days. The club chief's most loyal advisers did their utmost to dissuade him, as did the results of fan polls, a tool he often turns to when he's at sixes and sevens. Mou's tenure here yielded precious little: a Liga and a Copa in three years, all manner of scrapes and quarrels, and a club image of unprecedented nastiness and belligerence. In his third and final season at the helm, Barcelona won the league by a mile, Bayern lifted the Champions League, and the Copa went to Atlético. Then, lo and behold, Madrid promptly claimed four European crowns under Carlo Ancelotti and Zidane - two men cut from the same well-mannered cloth as Vicente del Bosque.

Zidane brings crucial measure of peace to Real Madrid

By agreeing to come back, Zidane has stepped in in the nick of time and, as I say, banished the spectre of Mourinho; thank Christ for that. Zizou's return, which will come with a series of conditions that in time will be revealed (or maybe not; his exact reasons for leaving were never disclosed, although this season has offered plenty of evidence as to why), brings a crucial measure of peace to the Bernabéu. The worst thing Madrid could have done in the weeks that remain before the summer was inflict further damage on themselves. Those close to Mourinho were at pains to paint him as a guy ready to change, telling me that he had seen the error of his ways and that it would be a new, reined-in Mou who returned to the Spanish capital. Fortunately, we won't get the chance to find out whether that was true.

Zidane (left) and Pérez during the Frenchman's unveiling as Real Madrid coach on Monday.

Zidane returns to club that had lost its way

To borrow a phrase used by El País' Juan Cruz, Zidane's return is the end of an anomaly. We never found out why he left in the first place, but we could certainly make an educated guess, just as we can now justifiably suppose that changes will be made to the things that motivated his resignation. I.e., he'll be in complete charge of first-team affairs, and will be placed in a position to mould a squad according to his vision. Pérez spending two years successively weakening the group of players that Zidane had steered to success, torpedoing the national side to plunder a coach who lasted a matter of months, and lifting another fruitless appointment out of the club's 'B' team - that's the anomaly Cruz speaks of. Now, having agreed to get the president out of the mess he's in (we'll see at what price) Zidane is back.