Zidane offers a new lifeline for Real Madrid after chaotic season

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Zinedine Zidane’s return to Real Madrid as coach has been well documented but once the dust has settled, the press conferences taken place and the excitement dissipated what Madrid fans needed and owner Florentino Perez was a reaction from what has been on the large part a dismal season for Los Blancos. That reaction came at the weekend after a solid 2-0 win at home to Celta Vigo.

It was a relief win because anything else would have felt like a comedown after the high of Zidane returning or even worse a continuation of Santiago Solari’s leadership. In truth Solari was offered a dream job and took it but was in no position to take it up, and he shouldn’t be completely blamed for what has been a forgettable season.

So what will be Zidane’s objective until the end of the season? First and foremost his job will be to install a winning mentality again, that of invincibility and it is obvious that his players are thrilled that he is back in the dug out. Giving Zidane those 10 matches or so until the end of the season was a smart choice from Perez as it gives Zidane a feel for the role again before more serious issues of having a smooth pre season and then a serious next one.

But the issue of this season will be trying to finish in 2nd place and the runners up spot to Barcelona. With Atletico Madrid losing 2-0 at Bilbao at the weekend Madrid have been able to close the gap on Diego Simeone’s side to just 2 points and it is clear that with Zidane stepping in Real now has the drive to progress.

Neither Atletico or Real will be catching Barcelona this season who have taken a 10 point lead at the top with 10 games remaining. In theory it’s up for grabs but the way that Barcelona have been playing they would have to suffer one of the biggest meltdowns in their history and that seems simply too unlikely.

But who can get 2nd place? And make no mistake 2nd place is important to Real Madrid in a season when if they finish 3rd simply seems odd. Atletico still have some very tough matches including having to play Barcelona away from home and it seems that these two who have been in many battles before are about to under go another one, albeit one which is less glamourous.

Real Madrid’s average season continues as they look to appoint big name coach

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Real Madrid have not been themselves this season and that continued after they could only draw 2-2 against Villarreal in their latest game in midweek. To rub salt into the wounds Madrid were leading 2-1 with just minutes to go but could not see the game out.

Despite Madrid winning the World Club Cup in December the pressure is on Santiago Solari to keep his job in the hot seat because the cup was won by beating two sides who with all due respect were not on the same level as Madrid. But the club keep continuing to underwhelm in La Liga.

This latest draw means that with 17 games played they have 30 points and are are 7 behind league leaders Barcelona. Los Blancos are also in the very unfamiliar position of 4th place. Both Deportivo on 28 points and Real Betis on 26 are not far behind and the worry is that if the team do not go on a consistent run they could fall even further behind.

In fairness to Solari who stepped in two months ago when Julen Lopetegui was sacked he has done a decent job in a very chaotic environment, but why are Madrid not firing on all cylinders?

The departures of coach Zinedine Zidane is a major factor, with the French legend guiding the club to an historic treble of Champions League trophies. Although it should be noted that Madrid only won the league once with Zidane in charge.

Madrid have always been about having the very best players- even if it hasn’t always worked out and they have been trumped in that department this season. With Cristiano Ronaldo leaving for Juventus, Madrid never replaced him and he has left a gaping hole in that team. This isn’t to say that Madrid have been poor this season, they just have not been their usual confident selves. Much of the limelight has gone onto the shoulders of Gareth Bale.

Bale has scored 10 goals in all competitions for the club this season and is on course to score his personal best. That is 22 which he achieved in his debut season. Still he only has 4 goals in the league and more would have been expected of him.

This season feels like a write off for the club and yet they won’t be giving up anything just yet especially in the Champions League. However you feel there will be a new dawn at the club in the summer which could mean more star players in, some out and certainly a new coach.

 

Florentino Perez listens to players and appoints Santiago Solari as Real Madrid coach

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Santiago Solari was named as the new Real Madrid manager this week, and the news will be a relief for the players.Solari has signed a 3 year contract with his former club and has also fought off stiff competition to land the job. Both Antonio Conte and Roberto Martinez were in the running to take over from the sacked Julen Lopetegui but Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has given the chance to Solari. So what gives and why did Perez not go for more experience?

The truth is that the players especially Sergio Ramos had voiced their disagreement in landing Conte as manager. His quote earlier this month that you have to earn respect to achieve it in regards of Conte being drafted in didn’t sit too well. Ramos and other influential players didn’t like the thought of Conte taking over the hot seat, and yes player power is evident once again. But whilst in the past Perez would have brushed off such antics, he listened and talks broke down.

There was also talk of bringing in former Everton manager Roberto Martinez, who would not have got a look in if still at the Premier League side. But his reputation has mostly been built on this summers World Cup, where his Belgian side reached the semi finals before losing narrowly against France who would eventually go on to win the trophy. There was a feeling that the players were more happier to receive Martinez than Perez was. However with Conte out of the picture, both Perez and the players broke even and Martinez was also ruled out. This left Solari who had been moved up from youth coach as a temporary figure head until the club could find someone.

However sometimes the answer or in Madrid’s case remedy is staring you in the face and Solari an ex player who has the respect of the current squad was given the job full time. With new managerial talks hitting a dead end, Perez also had the laws of the Spanish FA bearing down on him, given that clubs cannot have a caretaker manager for more than two weeks. In one way Solari has the job through default but in another perhaps he has earned it.

Since taking over from the ill fated Lopetegui, Solari has presided over 4 games and the club have won all 4. In his youth management Solari only managed a win rate of 37%, but he has got off to the best possible start with Madrid. The one important factor is that the players are their happiest they have been all season, that as Solari knows only to well can go a long way.

Real Madrid are still recovering from the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo, and this season was always going to be a transitiona one. But perhaps Solari can add the reignited spark that Los Blanco’s so ever need.