By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard
The football (soccer) great Zinedine Zidane has swooped in to “rescue” Real Madrid. A club that is a mere four points behind La Liga leading Athletico Madrid….in January. Four points in Real Madrid’s view is unacceptable.
Zidane is a legend in the soccer community. While most novices of the sport will only remember him for his red card in the 2006 World Cup Final where he famously head butted Marco Materazzi.
Zidane was a heck of a player at Madrid and elsewhere and has been managing Madrid’s reserve side, Real Madrid Castilla, for a couple of years. This in the eyes of the powers that be is enough to manage the biggest club in the world.
His hiring isn’t so much a surprise as is the firing of Rafa Benitez. Benitez managed Liverpool to two Champions League Finals (winning the trophy in 2004) and found success at Valencia, Napoli, Chelsea and Real Madrid. He was 17-5-3 in all competitions since taking over at Madrid but that wasn’t good enough. Apparently a 4-0 loss to arch rival Barcelona and a supposed riff with superstar striker Cristiano Ronaldo is enough to be sacked nowadays.
Don’t worry about Benitez. He walks away with a cool £7million (about $10.2million US) for his trouble. And Madrid can afford to pay. Real Madrid is the richest club in the world. They are estimated a $3.26 billion according to Forbes.
A lot of questions now arise for the 43 year old Zidane. He has played but never coached at this level before and it’s a very big stage to cut your teeth at.
Only time will tell if this is the right decision. Like other sports organizations (college and professional) it is becoming clear that the days of “building” are gone and it’s a “win now or else” mentality around the globe. And don’t just win, but win by a wide margin.