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Zidane at his wits' end: the reasons why the Real Madrid coach is not happy

The coach has been on the verge of exploding on a number of occasions and retorted to a question in today's press conference. He feels he isn't being backed...

Zidane, en una conferencia de Prensa.

Zidane lost his cool in today's press conference in Valdebebas. Tension has been simmering for Real Madrid coach during the past few weeks - it's a heated situation, he is not happy and feels that he is being targeted unfairly. Problems have been accumulating as have his confrontations with the media. Zidane and Real Madrid have known happier times but instead of returning from his period of self-isolation calmer, stress and anxiety marked today's press briefing and at one point things boiled over. For a while, Zizou has been sending message to the club and feels that he isn't being protected.

These are just some of the reasons why Zidane is not happy...

Criticism has started to get to him

Back on 21 January, Zidane gave an inkling of what was brewing. "What do you want? For us to just write off the rest of the season?" he retorted brusquely to reporter Ricardo Sierra during a Flash interview after the 1-2 defeat to Athletic which eliminated Madrid from the Spanish Super Cup. The Vamos journalist had simply asked is he felt that the defeat would negatively affect his team. It was surprising to hear a serious-looking Zizou come back with such a curt reply - far from the jovial, smiling and relaxed persona we are used to seeing. He also cut a very edgy figure during the run-in with Javier Tebas over the journey to Pamplona. Zidane belives that the press are out to get him  - "If you don't want me here, then say so," was his complaint today, and also that Madrid are not giving him any protection.

Zidane on arroval in Huesca
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Zidane on arroval in HuescaJavier NavarroDIARIO AS

He doesn't feel supported by the club

Madrid's only spokesman is Emilio Butragueño, Director  of Institutional Relations, a figure whose role is more diplomatic than executive. With neither Florentino Pérez nor José Ángel Sánchez to deal with the media, Zidane has to do it all himself twice a week - often facing difficult questions such as his opinion on the decision to travel to Pamplona in spite of the havoc caused by the arctic weather, or being quizzed about signings - an area which is not his direct concern. The club has been preparing Raúl to eventually take the reins and for some time had considered Mourinho or Pochettino to take over the coaching job. Even Pochettino taking the PSG job has done little to ease the pressure.

No new signings... the squad getting weaker

The squad has been losing clout since Cristiano was sold and Madrid have not compensated for that. Signings that were sanctioned by the club for large sums haven't worked out - Militao (50M), Odriozola (30M) and even Vinicius (45M), have not slotted into the coach's plans. Nor was he pleased that Madrid took so long in finding an outlet, albeit a temporary one, for Gareth Bale and that on top of the pandemic, there have been no new signings in the last three windows / something which has not happened since 1980. Players didn't arrive, but quite a few have left, like Achraf, Mayoral, Ødegaard, Jovic... Zidane understands that the economic situation is precarious, but it has meant that the squad is too dependent on older, veteran players while a lot of the younger players have been held back by ongoing injuries (Militão, Rodrygo, Odriozola, Valverde...). Zizou has had to rely on players who are nearing the end of their careers.

La relación entre Zidane y Ramos es muy estrecha y el marsellés no está cómodo con la no renovación de su capitán.
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La relación entre Zidane y Ramos es muy estrecha y el marsellés no está cómodo con la no renovación de su capitán.LALIGA/RAFA APARICIO

No new deal for Ramos

One of those veteran players is Sergio Ramos. The defender has known Zizou since they were both team mates and that relationship has grown stronger since the Frenchman took over as coach. The defender's contract has been an issue for the past few months and it still hasn't been resolved. Ramos stood up for Zidane in Istanbul back in October when the coach was on the brink of being sacked for the team's defeat to Galatasaray. "With other coaches, the yardstick has been different..." he said with reference to Mourinho: "Zizou deserves respect". Zidane returned the favour publicly - first by hailing the central defender as the best in football history and then by expressing his impatience that the club had not renewed his contract. The low level of tension between Ramos and Madrid is also being felt within the dressing room, among players who are already miffed about taking a pay cut.

Odegaard recibe instrucciones de Arteta antes de debutar con el Arsenal.
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Odegaard recibe instrucciones de Arteta antes de debutar con el Arsenal.DPA vía Europa Press

Friction with Odegaard, Jovic, Brahim...

For quite some time there has been a wave of opinion about how Zidane handles the up and coming, younger stars at Real Madrid - or rather how he doesn't. The club's strategy of signing promising young players clashes with his faith in the older, more experienced players (Ramos, Modric, Kroos, Lucas, Benzema...). Some people at the club cannot understand how Brahim has failed to take off in Chamartín but is now doing well in Milan, or how is it possible that Jovic has exploded into form almost as soon as he touched down in Frankfurt, scoring more goals in a couple of weeks that he did in a year and a half in Madrid. Then there is the case with Martin Ødegaard, a strategic signing and the jewel in the crown of the club's transfer policy. Zidane tried to fit him into the side but left the Norwegian at the back of the queue the minute he wasn't performing to the required level. "Madrid think Ødegaard is right, it would have been worse for him to stay in Madrid with Zidane," was how Antón Meana summed it up on El Larguero when the midfielder left to join Arsenal on loan. Madrid cannot understand how Ødegaard, who many of Europe's top clubs have been fighting for, has not received any support from Zidane. That's an argument that Zidane can no longer hide from - either in private or in public.


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