A LOOK AT LA LIGA
The biggest obstacle to Zinedine Zidane being recognised as one of the greatest coaches in world football is Zinedine Zidane the footballer.
If only he could express himself in a press conference the way he spoke with a football or be as demonstrative on the touchline as he was on the halfway line. He's never come up with a motivational one-liner to paint on the walls of the Real Madrid changing rooms, nor is there a single image as a manager that defines him.
He's not as quote-worthy as José Mourinho, can't claim to be a revolutionary like Pep Guardiola, nor is he able to galvanise a city like Jürgen Klopp, yet he's up there among the best in the business.
Many argued the Real Madrid team managed itself, as they claimed the Champions League title for three successive years. It looked easy. Zidane appeared to have the club in cruise control until he took his sabbatical.
When Julen Lopetegui and Santi Solari, his successors who soon became his predecessors, took to the driver's seat they were cranking all the gears and generally going into reverse. A year ago, the club suffered a disastrous eight days when they went out of the Copa del Rey, lost a Clásico and were embarrassed by Ajax in the Champions League. The season was over by mid-March.
Now Real are approaching a similar season-defining period with a Clásico sandwiched in-between meetings with Manchester City. Whatever happens, and there will be changes in the summer, Zidane's position is safe.
He's quietly and diplomatically turned the club around. His immediate task was to create a team ethic after the reliance on Cristiano Ronaldo. Then came the Gareth Bale saga, followed by losing his expensive recruit Eden Hazard for most of the season.
For most managers these dilemmas would be head-popping, but the Frenchman just takes it all in his elegant stride.
Let's face it, he is footballing royalty and if a royal is in the room, you subconsciously change your behaviour. If he was my manager my boots would always be shining and my clothes hanging in my locker rather than piled on the floor. Not one player can assume the stance of 'The Big I am' when they engage with Zidane.
This is the man who recently marked his 250th game as a manager and has already claimed ten majors. Remember he's won three successive Champions League titles since Pep Guardiola last saw his reflection in the top European trophy. He's taken two club world titles compared to Klopp's one.
Much was made of his first meeting as a manager with Pep Guardiola. Zidane politely described the Manchester City leader as "the best coach in the world". This is a little too self-effacing.
Zidane may not have the recognition as a coach but he's arguably the best man-manager in football right now. He's normalised a crazed club.
Maybe he'll only get the recognition he deserves if he goes knee sliding down the touchline, starts wise-cracking with the media, cheer-leads the ultras or head-butts an opposing coach.
They call the Bernabéu the White House; without him in charge it was the Mad House.