surinenglish

Is Zizou the special one?

A young Zidane.
A young Zidane. / SUR
  • opinion

  • Zidane is not one to boast; he famously lets his actions do the talking

Ok, he doesn't have the manic charm of Jurgen Klopp, he doesn't pout quite like Jose Mourinho and doesn't offer considered wisdom like Pep Guardiola. You won't walk into his club and see his anecdotes projected onto the walls of the museum.

In fact I’d struggle to find any famous quotes at all attributed to Zinedine Zidane; he famously lets his actions do the taking. His modest personality is the opposite of the modern giants who manage Europe’s major clubs. That’s made him a target for the fickle brigade as Real Madrid have underachieved in La Liga this season.

We can’t deny he must take some responsibility for the lack of spark in the domestic competitions and that’s why he was under scrutiny as they fell into the shadow cast by Barcelona. However, after a period of self assessment, and more importantly an assessment of the talented footballers available to him, he’s back to his best.

When Zidane took over at the Bernabéu he made his mark by selecting on form and usefulness rather than shirt-selling ability and popularity. This resulted in eight Majors, and I mean major Majors. Spanish League winners in his first full season, back-to-back Champions League titles, World Club Champions... Yet those with short memories started to doubt his ability and put it down to merely the riches at his disposal.

So it was written that if he lost to Paris Saint Germain he’d be looking for a new pastime as he left through the revolving manager’s door in Madrid. Paris have arguably similar riches and talent pool so this was a level, highly expensive playing field.

Zidane was bold. He chose to leave ‘Galáctico’ Gareth Bale out of the starting line-up and introduced fringe players Lucas Vázquez and Marco Asensio in the first leg. It worked wonders. He started them both in the second leg and won the tactical battle with his opposite number Unai Emery. Now the snap reaction is to label him a tactical genius rather than managerial mannequin.

He’s not only proven to be a fine strategist but also a fine psychologist and diplomat. Cristiano Ronaldo is agreeing to his methods and in a snake pit full of egos there hasn’t been one dissenting voice or loose-talking agent of a disaffected player. They all seem to want to play for Zidane and want him to remain in charge.

The man who was derided in January could be crowned the greatest of all time if he masterminds the club’s 13th elite European trophy, his third in a row. In fact his stock is so high with the British Press, he’s been suggested as the manager of Arsenal!