. The secrets of Zidane’s success at Real Madrid
The Frenchman has won consecutive Champions League titles with Los Blancos and is on course to be the club’s most decorated coach. How has he done it?
One hundred games up for Zinedine Zidane. The Frenchman reached three figures in matches as Real Madrid beat Getafe in La Liga last week and it is fair to say he has exceeded all expectations since taking over from Rafa Benitez in January of last year.
From his 100 fixtures in charge, Zidane has 75 victories and just eight defeats. He has also won seven trophies, including back-to-back Champions League crowns and is already one of the most successful Real Madrid managers in the club’s illustrious history.
Perhaps surprising given the fact that he had arrived with minimal coaching experience, taking the top job at the Santiago Bernabeu after a short spell at Madrid’s youth team, and a season alongside Carlo Ancelotti with the first team in 2013-14.
“He is already a great coach,” Ancelotti said earlier this year before Madrid met Bayern Munich in the Champions League. “He has everything needed to be a top coach. He is charismatic and the players respect him.”
He was also desperate to learn and a source told Goal: “When he was Ancelotti’s assistant, he asked him everything.”
“We enjoyed his talents as a player very much in Spain,” Vicente del Bosque told Goal. “But I didn’t see him excessively worried with tactical matters, with coaching. He wasn’t like other players that you perhaps note that they have it in them. He was quiet and respectful.”
Other former Madrid coach, Mariano Garcia Remon, commented to Goal: “I was a little surprised when he became a coach. Because some players, when they hang up their boots, have already taken courses. But not Zidane. First he quit football and then he found his place as a coach.”
“Before he was a manager, he was in many roles at Real Madrid,” former France team-mate Christian Karembeu said. “As an advisor, and an assistant coach, also he went to school to be in management to learn about sports management. And of course later he went to the cantera where he decided to test himself as a manager. Therefore, what he has built and with his experience as a player, he has made it happen.”
“He is a winner,” Karembeu added, and Del Bosque is very impressed with how his former player is doing in his new career. “He has done everything in a phenomenal way: from his communication plan, the way he works with the player and also in his sporting strategy,” he said.
And Garcia-Remon added: “He has won the confidence of the president and also the respect of the whole squad. It looks like he has their faith and trust, whatever decision he takes.
He has been able to rotate and, it seems, to keep all of the players happy at the same time.”
“His numbers are spectacular,” Juande Ramos told Goal. “He came out of Castilla to coach Real Madrid. He had a year as assistant to Ancelotti as well and I think that helped him.
“As a player he experienced all kinds of situations and now he is at a team that is among the best in the world. He has had spectacular results and he is managing the squad with a lot of intelligence.”
And Jean Fernandez, the coach who gave Zidane his Cannes debut in 1989, said: “As well as showing that he’s a great person, in these 100 games he has proved that he is a great coach as well.”
“Managing a dressing room is very difficult,” former Madrid team-mate Paco Pavon said. “But you don’t win all the titles Zidane has won only by managing the dressing room.
“It’s a mix of everything: tactical work, managing the dressing room, psychological work with the players and having a group of players like the one he has – that are very talented and play at such a high level.”