• Dan Tracey


With Real Madrid’s defence of their La Liga crown somewhat stuttering, the focus has once again shifted to the man in charge and although Zinedine Zidane has done great things in the past, that is not necessarily a precursor to what will happen in the future.

Because in the high-pressure environment of the Santiago Bernabeu, there is very much a sense of what have you done for me lately and even if things turn out to be great, that is no guarantee of future employment either.

Which means with Real’s crosstown rivals Atletico surging clear at the top of the La Liga table, questions regarding the status of Zidane are only becoming louder and he himself has done little to quell such discussion.

The former midfield star is contracted to manage the club until 2022 and although he himself would hope that at least one more campaign in charge is afforded to him, it is ultimately not a decision for him to make.

Because with Los Blancos a far distance behind Diego Simeone’s Atletico men, there has also been disappointment in both the Super Cup and Copa Del Rey and because of this, their upcoming Champions League Round of 16 tie now takes on extra importance.

A tie that sees them go up against Atalanta and should the unthinkable happen, it might mean a decision regarding the future of Zinedine Zidane could be made far earlier than the end of the season.

Realistically, success in the Champions League is Real’s only hope of earning any silverware this side of the summer and even if they do dispose of their Serie A counterparts, there are still three more hurdles left to clear.

Hurdles, that would only see the opposition become tougher and with the Spanish giants only currently only seventh favourites at 16/1, it would make more sense to back a change of manager instead.

When quizzed on next steps, the 48-year-old Zidane was largely non-committal on his future and simply said “we’ll see”. A short phrase, but one that will subsequently generate a whole length of column inches.

There’s no doubt that the Real Madrid manager’s second tenure at the club has not been as successful as the first, although that does come with a rather large caveat and that is the fact, this current reign has been shorter by comparison.

However, there is always a sense in football that you should never go back and although capturing the La Liga crown last season has done little to sully Zidane’s legacy at the club, there is a charge sheet forming for other reasons.

One of those, is the falling out with Gareth Bale and the fact that the one-time saleable asset has nothing in the way of return on investment for the Real Madrid board, while it also the manager’s lack of trust in youth which is also working against him.

Whether these in isolation are enough to change the managerial status quo remains to be seen. Then again, with the man in question currently being tight lipped on his future, don’t be surprised if an early exit takes place at some point within the next few months.

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