Why Zinedine Zidane Cannot Be Real Madrid’s Alex Ferguson

Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane (Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane (Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images) /

Zinedine Zidane has been asked about his Real Madrid future time and again, but the Frenchman is keen to focus on the present.

Zinedine Zidane will go down in history as arguably one of the greatest managers of all time by the time he retires from the coaching game. One can say that he has already established his legacy owing to his highly successful first stint at Real Madrid, winning the UEFA Champions League three-peat.

He has already won 11 titles in around four seasons and has steadied the ship this season after it seemed like Real Madrid were rolling back the memories of the 2018-19 season. He has now won six consecutive games across all competitions.

Zidane is very calm in the way he responds to the media. He is not shy to let his feelings show, although he also knows how to avoid controversy because he is someone who will never speak things that will capture him or the club in a bad light.

After securing the top spot in the UEFA Champions League group stages by beating Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-0 in the final group game, Zidane was asked if he can be Real Madrid’s Alex Ferguson by staying at the club long enough. Zidane replied, “I’ll never be Real Madrid’s version of Sir Alex Ferguson.”

There you have it. Although it must be quite an honour for Zinedine Zidane the coach to be compared to Sir Alex Ferguson – which it is – he knows that he won’t be staying long enough at the club to be a part of the same bracket that Sir Alex Ferguson belongs to.

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The legendary Manchester United manager was at the helm for an unprecedented 26-and-a-half years. He managed 1,500 games for the club! Yes, 1,500. On the other hand, Zidane managed his 232nd match as Real Madrid manager against Granada. He has 154 victories so far.

Zidane mentioned that he is lucky to be the coach of the greatest club in the world, which he always does, and that he wants to stay ‘a bit longer.’ Now, I am sure that doesn’t mean another two decades as the Real Madrid manager. And that’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?

Announcing his decision to resign from the Real Madrid post days after winning a third Champions League in a row goes some way to show who and what Zidane is. If he is/wanted to be Real Madrid’s version of Sir Alex Ferguson, he wouldn’t have left the post.

People – and more specifically the media – should understand that Zidane and Sir Alex Ferguson will never be the same. Zidane is Zidane and Sir Alex Ferguson is Sir Alex Ferguson. There is never going to be someone like them. But, they are also different individually.

Zidane was already a Real Madrid legend when he signed to become the manager, while a young Alex Ferguson had the experience of coaching Aberdeen in Scotland. Real Madrid were competing for the league (as they always do) when Zidane signed. Manchester United were reeling at the 21st spot in the league when Sir Alex Ferguson was appointed the coach in November 1986.

Manchester United are what they are today thanks in large part to what Sir Alex Ferguson did during his tenure. Zidane didn’t have to raise the club from its ruins although he did win the league in 2019-20 with a team that was counted off by everyone.

One could say that these two managers are similar in many ways, yet, in truth, they are so different. Their roles were different for their respective clubs. As far as the time duration is concerned, I don’t see Zidane staying for more than a few years. And when he is done with being Real Madrid’s manager, he will be done for good.

Zidane has expressed his desire to manage the French National Football Team in the past, and I am sure he is going to be the prime candidate for the post once current France NT manager Didier Deschamps is fired or steps down.

Miguel Muñoz is considered to be the greatest coach in Real Madrid history. He managed the club for just 51 days in his first stint followed by a second stint that lasted almost 14 years. I would say that he was more like Real Madrid’s Alex Ferguson because of both his longevity as a coach and the tremendous success he achieved during his time. He managed the club for 604 games (most for any Real Madrid coach) and won a club-record 14 titles during his 14-year spell.

Zinedine Zidane, having managed less than half the amount of games Muñoz did, is within touching distance of Muñoz’s record of 14 titles. By the time Zidane manages his 300th game for Real Madrid, he is likely to have won as many titles as Muñoz did.

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Zidane’s impact on this club might not be as big as Sir Alex Ferguson’s was on Manchester United, and it will never be. It doesn’t have to. Because Zidane will never be Real Madrid’s Sir Alex Ferguson, but he is and will always be Real Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane.