Madrid literally stood still when former coach of Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane was announced Tuesday as the new coach of the club.
Spanish media went agog with the news of the return of the savior Zouzou inferring his return was the last hope to revive the struggling champions of Europe.
Barcelona daily Sport, said “Zizou” is “the Savior” who is also Real’s “last shot to survive their crisis.”
Barcelona daily Mundo Deportivo wrote about Real president Florentino Perez having pulled from his hat a rabbit called Zinedine Zidane .
Marca, Madrid’s Sports daily reported that: “He is back and his priority is to rescue and revitalize a struggling squad that has been on a downward spiral ever since his departure on May 31, 2018.”
The 46-year-old Zidane replaced Santiago Solari on Monday and signed a contract until 2022, with the club eliminated from the Champions League, a trophy it won three times under Zidane, and the Spanish Cup and a distant third in La Liga.
“Zidane was the standout favorite for Florentino Perez and the Real Madrid president was willing to do whatever it took to get him back on side,” continued Marca. “It seems it only required two conversations to twist his arm.”
AS, a Madrid-based paper, quoted Zidane as saying: “I could not say no.”
Solari’s exit was inevitable but the coach to take over from him became the subject of wide speculation among soccer fans and enthusiasts, and 284 days after he resigned as coach of the champions of Europe, Zidane returns following Santiago Solari’s sack.
Madrid just couldn’t do it without Zidane with the two coaches employed after he resigned performing woefully, first under Julen Lopetegui, the sacked Spain coach, and then Solari, the interim-turned-permanent coach, who watched on as Madrid’s season went up in smoke in six days.
Zidane knew he would return with more authority than ever, far more even than after he had hoisted a third consecutive Champions League trophy.
The suspicion then was that he was just a face, a popular manager to keep the ship steady while star players engineered their own success.
As two coaches came and went, Zidane’s stock rose with every chance missed, every seat left empty and every point that Barcelona moved further away.
“I returned because the president called me. I love him and I love this club,” he said. “We will change things, for sure, for the years to come.”
With a number of other high profile coaches linked with the job, it would probably come as a disappointment that it did not happen but it will hopefully be a huge relief for Perez who was under fire from all directions, from the fans, many of whom blamed the board more than Solari in the newspaper polls, and from the players, led by Sergio Ramos.
Though it could be argued that the problems at Real stemmed not from the departure of Zidane last summer but the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo, Zidane is back where it all started for him back in 2001 and fans, supporters of the club, and everyone with affinity to the club will perhaps hope that he has an even better second spell.