"HE IS what day I'm in, one day I'm gone, then I'm in a little bit, then we pull or lose and I'm out again, ”said Zinedine Zidane. This was early February, and that's one reason why he was really out, almost four months later. At 10:30 on Thursday morning went to Real Madrid manager Valdebebas. When he left the car two hours later, he was officially the former Real Madrid coach. Again. He had told some players the night before while Santiago Bernabéu was being seen over the fire.
His statement confirming the club's departure was issued soon after. noon. Especially enthusiastic and just long words. There are no press conferences or farewell plans; The club's media chose to turn the page, reading silence after the statement. The only player Zidane could say goodbye to in person was Lucas Vázquez, who went through rehab at Valdebebas.
The statement was short, but enough said, the main message was given: this is his decision, not ours. He had chosen to leave; All they could do was respect it. And don't ever mention him again. This is Zidane's third time away: as a player and twice as manager. When the decision was unilateral each time, he waived any salary that still had to be paid every time he entered the contract and each time. This money is too much. “I'll make it very easy for the club,” he said earlier this month.
But that doesn't mean it's just about himself or that he doesn't feel compelled. door. These are not decisions made in the vacuum, but the club is complicit in creating the conditions that see him leave.
Nor are they surprised: Madrid has known for some time that this was coming. They were also prepared for it, although they disliked the idea of someone else describing what would happen next. A search for change that they were optimistic had begun, and Max Allegri would end up signing only to find that Italians might have other ideas. And so on to other candidates like Antonio Conte and Mauricio Pochettino, or so they hope. Then there is Raúl, who coaches the B team.
Zidane has been speaking like a man publicly and privately for a while. He recently denied reports that he told players that he would be leaving before the season was over - "why should I say that now?" he objected - but certainly that's how some interpreted his words. In the media, clues became more and more severe, and questioning became more insistent than ever.
However, this is not new. At one level, he was there the moment he came back as coach in March 2019, not completely convinced of anything except that he somehow obliged. Even before that: when he came out at the top in May 2018, a three-time Champions League winner, it wasn't just because he managed to make it, because it was hell of a time and a way to go. When he returned, he was in a position of authority, but that would never be eternal. Even not winning guarantees this.
“I've been imprisoned for two weeks as if in a cage and I feel like I'm fighting,” Zidane said, going and found one. The Covid test was positive - 19 and isolated at home, watching his team fight. They flew from Cup to third tier Alcoyano, Super Cup against Athletic Bilbao, and while seemingly out of the league, they also flew in Europe, lost to Shakhtar Donetsk twice and faced the possibility of not passing the group. The first time.
Of course they made progress, which tends to be the way, Zidane rely on the old guards and survives another crisis. At a press conference, he asked for respect for the group. "I'm angry," he said.
He was too angry for anyone to remember, and his focus was on his demands that a generation that had given so much to the club should be allowed another one. A generation that will ultimately include it, it's title defensive season. And thensaid there will be changes. This includes it. It will almost certainly cover captain Sergio Ramos, with whom he wanted to get a contract extension but still has not signed.
“A lot has been said about a lot of things about the changes. Aries, but we will fight to the end and we deserve respect. Tell my face that you want to get rid of me, not behind my back, ”Zidane told the reporters, but they were not the only ones he said.
The club knows, it is always spoken, and it's true - good or bad. He knows that rumors and attacks always come out of nowhere; He knew that the reports claiming his dismissal hours away after he was defeated against Shakhtar were not fabricated. He is aware of where the whispers come from, that some stands carry certain voices out of the club, that criticisms are not broadcast indirectly but fully in the public, distrust of him has crept in the air, and ideas are floating in the air.
So, to see him, to fight to win something, these players he has accomplished so much - let himself be -
vowed to allow them to be added. Trophies won with him as coach, 24 games each. They competed together and somewhere along the line he decided it was time. It was better for him and for them. As the season closes, no titles to celebrate, no splits at the top this time, Zidane was asked if Real Madrid could thrive under a different manager. “Absolutely,” he said.