Real Madrid might be sitting top of the pile in La Liga but their performances, both domestically and on the European stage, have been some way short of convincing. Zinedine Zidane remains a man under serious pressure.
Should Zidane be under the microscope and, if so, where could Real go looking for their next gaffer?
Damaging a legacy?
Zizou, as he is affectionately known, banked an impressive six trophies as a player and nine as a manager – including three consecutive Champions Leagues – during his time with Real. Let’s clear one thing up; regardless of how his reign ends this time around, Zidane will always be a legend in Madrid.
That said, his team looks a shadow of their former self. Cristiano Ronaldo is long gone; the likes of Sergio Ramos isn’t getting any younger. Players like James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale, who Zidane didn’t see as key components of his squad in the summer, are now featuring regularly.
Karim Benzema, now 31, is still the main source of goals and although finding the net isn’t a trouble, the team do have issues shutting the back door and that could be a big factor as the season – especially the Champions League – progresses. The better sides are likely to expose Madrid’s vulnerability. An early exit in Europe could see a big nail hammered into Zidane’s coffin.
Pochettino was being heavily linked with the Real job last year before the return of Zidane. If the Frenchman’s second spell ends prematurely, the Spurs manager will be firmly in the race.
Poch’s approach to the game is based on a high press that aims to recover possession deep in opposition territory giving his sides a greater chance of carving out chances, but his most endearing quality is his ability to create a close-knit group on a relative shoestring.
The top job in Madrid would be a big step for a manager who has never won anything – and he’d have to deal with the demands that come with the job – but he would certainly produce a side that played good football and they’d win more than they lost.
Poch takes a hands-on approach to developing young talent and prides himself on getting the best out of everyone in his squad but would he be given the time to build that at the Bernabeu? Possibly, but he’d have to ensure Real were still ‘in the fight’ during the building phase.
The self proclaimed Special One previously spent three years at Real and collected three pieces of silverware during his reign. Now it seems he could be at the front of the queue to replace Zidane.
Mourinho is the polar opposite of Pochettino in many ways; first of all, the Portuguese is a serial winner having had success everywhere he’s been (yes, even a 2nd place finish with Man Utd looks like a success given their current plight). He’ll guarantee to have Madrid competing on all fronts given the quality in the squad and the wealth of riches behind the scenes to complement the existing players.
He prides himself on a solid defensive unit and a strong spine believing a sound base gives the offensive players a chance to shine and if the leaky backline could be plugged then Madrid would still be a force to be reckoned with. Bale might be looked upon like an old horse, but he’s nowhere near out to pasture yet and has a lot to offer at the very highest level.
Whilst the media would pour fuel on the fire of relationship issues between Mourinho and Eden Hazard, the Belgian genius has previously stated that Mourinho is the one manager he’d love to work with again.
Could it happen? Rule it out at your peril.
Real’s questionable start could still turn out to be a successful year for Zidane but – probably when rather than – if a wobble comes then there are two very different managers waiting in the wings to attempt to right the wrongs. Where would you turn?
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