In retrospect, Zinedine Zidane probably shouldn’t have returned to Real Madrid for a second stint as manager. The Frenchman still managed to win a Spanish title in the 2019/20 season but, after an initial tenure that saw him leave after lifting three straight Champions League trophies, Zidane found a club in a state of transition upon walking through the door again.
The Santiago Bernabeu brought the best out of Zidane as a manager. While Real Madrid suffered a downturn in his final season in charge, it wasn’t due to the 49-year-old’s stewardship. Even as Los Blancos finished third in the La Liga table behind rivals Atletico Madrid, they still made a run to the Champions League semi-finals.
And yet Zidane’s ability as a coach was continually questioned during his time as Real Madrid boss. No manager has won more Champions League titles than Zidane, with the Frenchman also winning two La Liga titles, two UEFA Super Cups and two Club World Cups making him one of the most successful managers in Real Madrid’s entire history.
Zidane has now been out of the game for five months and has been linked with a number of jobs, most notably in the Premier League where Manchester United have reportedly weighed up an approach to the 49-year-old. His track record makes him the most attractive managerial free agent now that Antonio Conte is in employment again.
At Real Madrid, Zidane managed through his aura as one of the best players to have ever worn the shirt at the club. This allowed him to control a dressing room full of big egos and this compensated for his relative weakness as a tactician. Would Zidane have this aura in the Manchester United dressing room?
Of course, Cristiano Ronaldo and Raphael Varane worked under Zidane at Real Madrid and so those relationships would likely allow the 49-year-old to win hearts and minds at Old Trafford. Paul Pogba is also known to be close to Zidane whose appointment would surely see the midfielder sign a new contract to stay at Manchester United.
However, if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s biggest problem is his lack of tactical nous, there’s no guarantee that Zidane would remedy this. In fact, Solskjaer and Zidane are frequently compared for the way they manage, even if the latter has enjoyed significantly more success at the elite level of the sport.
Juventus might be a better fit for Zidane. In Turin, the Frenchman would have the same sort of aura that he had at Real Madrid, given his history with the Bianconeri. Zidane is a Juventus legend and would instantly command the respect of a dressing room at the Allianz Stadium that looks to be in desperate need of guidance.
It’s entirely feasible that Juve could soon be in the market for a new manager with Max Allegri struggling to make his mark on a side that could only muster a fourth place finish in the Serie A table last season. Many believe Zidane should have been offered the job before Allegri was lured back to Turin for a second stint this summer.
Looking at other jobs that could potentially be on the market in the not so distant future, Paris Saint-Germain could suit Zidane perfectly. The former Ballon d’Or winner might be from Marseille, but a return to his homeland might appeal. On top of this, Zidane’s standing in the game might allow him to get a grip of the egos at the Parc des Princes.
Going on the basis of recent reports and his Instagram account, Zidane isn’t in any rush to return to management. He might wish to wait until next summer to take on a new challenge. The 49-year-old must make sure his next job is the right job. Zidane won’t be able to replicate the circumstances that made him so perfect for Real Madrid at another club.
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