Real Madrid: Zinedine Zidane’s positive outlook upon his return is huge

MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 16: Zinedine Zidane, Manager of Real Madrid reacts during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and RC Celta de Vigo at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on March 16, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 16: Zinedine Zidane, Manager of Real Madrid reacts during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and RC Celta de Vigo at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on March 16, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

Zinedine Zidane’s return to Real Madrid a couple of weeks ago signified that he has learned a lot in the short time he took off.

“The bad things we did,” is something that caught my eye right immediately when Zizou spoke at his reintroduction press conference. Zizou was a tremendously successful pairing with the Real Madrid squad. They will historically be known as “that” squad who won it all.

Three Champions Leagues titles, two FIFA Club World Cups, two UEFA Super Cups, one La Liga title and, one Spanish Super Cup is more trophies than many clubs will ever win. The dynasty team who took no prisoners in Europe and catapulted Real Madrid once again to the forefront of the discussion: Which club is the best of all time?

So much good was done, yet Zidane made a point to mention that he didn’t forget the bad things that the team also did. The major one: not winning La Liga in the 2017/2018 season and the knockout of the Copa Del Rey in the same season. It all hurt even though the club was in the middle of an incredible UCL run.

Zidane also mentioned “change” quite a lot during his press conference. The important thing here is understanding these “changes.” Beyond the squad changes that are absolutely going to happen this summer, the other important changes are some of the problems that Zidane encountered which contributed to the struggles in his last season.

Starting with the Copa Del Rey, Real Madrid managed to get themselves knocked out in the quarterfinals by an unimpressive Leganes side who, respectfully, had the worst offensive team at the time.

Zidane, despite his team being unconvincing through the previous six games of the CDR, and only on a 1-0 aggregate score, elected to not take Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos, and, Marcelo and at least include them on the bench. This resulted in a lack of offensive firepower, a lack of structure, and no real solutions on the defensive end either.

Unfortunately, the loss was solely to blame on the manager who wasn’t able to get the best out of Isco and Marca Asensio, put too much faith pressure on a young Achraf Hakimi (who did not and was not playing well at the time), left his main attacking threats out of the squad despite a trophy being on the line, and was not able to conjure up any solutions to break down Leganes’ tactics and structure while defending.

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As the season went on, it was clear that a few players began to pick up steam and play better. Zidane seemed to be moving on from the first half of the season but by then, it was too late. With Barcelona and Atletico shining through the first half of the season coupled with Real Madrid’s poor start, the damage had been done.

It became apparent that Zidane’s tactics were being found out and turned against the team and he had no solution. The other main issue was his reluctance to rotate the squad. As Real Madrid began to lose, he placed an emphatic trust in the “first squad” to win games. This core group failed in some games to really turn up with tired legs being one of the main issues.

I don’t believe Zizou was a tactical banana (as the saying went) nor do I believe that he is in any way a bad manager. He was able to create a sensational team who could make it happen in a moment and who could take the reins during the game and turn it all around. I’m not sure he adapted enough. The offensive fluidity became inconsistent.

There’s no denying the good that squad achieved and this is by no means a bashing of the squad. Simply put: there were a lot of things that could have been better.

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Zidane is definitely aware of all these issues. From his press conferences, we saw a man so incredibly self-aware and humble who understands his own limitations which led to his resignation.

Now, after 10 months of rest, recovery, and reflection, Zidane believes he’s ready to take on the challenge. 10 games in La Liga to see which players have the cojones to stay and fight. 10 games to see who to let go this summer.

Certainly, Zizou will have a lot of pressure to perform in the 19/20 season. With a possible renewed and supplemented squad this summer, combined with the refreshed mind of Zidane and a new perspective on management, I’m sure he’ll get a lot right.

So we’re here now and I’m all in on this journey. An improved Zidane for sure which means an improved Real Madrid. Let’s go.

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