Zinedine Zidane: A manager drenched in trophies

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 17 August 2017, 11:51

Has a manager ever enjoyed such a staggering start to life in the dugout? In the space of 19 momentous months Zinedine Zidane, one of the greatest players of all time, has taken to management like a duck to water, hoisting a whopping seven cups, including back-to-back Champions League trophies.

Seven trophies in 19 months

On Wednesday night the Frenchman got his mitts on the Spanish Super Cup, after Real outclassed fierce rivals Barcelona 5-1 on aggregate, which he adds to a stunning trophy cabinet that already includes the La Liga title, UEFA Super Cup (2), FIFA Club World Cup, and the aforementioned brace of Champions Leagues.

Let’s not forget he also won a plethora of honours as player, including the World Cup, European Championship, Champions League, Serie A and La Liga.

To put Zidane’s managerial achievements into perspective, he’s already on the same Champions League tally as Sir Alex Ferguson, Pep Guardiola, and Jose Mourinho, while he’s only one more European triumph away from Carlo Ancelotti and Bob Paisley. No gaffer has ever won the European Cup three times in a row.

Despite the constant accumulation of trophies Zidane stays humble, saying after his latest triumph:

"But at the same time this is football. Tomorrow, or in two games, things can change. Good or bad, we will keep working the same day to day and try and keep going in this way."

Top class or lucky?

In January 2016 Zidane was catapulted into the Real hotseat following the sacking of Rafa Benitez. The former Los Blancos magician had zero top-flight managerial experience, only a spell in charge of the club’s B team, Castilla, and while he said all the right things on his appointment, he knew full well that it’s results you’re judged on at Real. More specifically, winning alone isn’t good enough, it’s how you win.

Within five months he’d won the Champions League, a few months later he was victorious¬†in the UEFA Super Cup, followed by the Club World Cup, and in the space of one year he’d led Real on an astonishing 40-game unbeaten run: a Spanish record.

A much sprouted out criticism of Zidane is that he’s not a great manager, but one who has found himself in the right place at the right time, blessed with an abundance of riches at his disposal at one of the biggest and most successful clubs in the world.

While it’s true that Real boast one of the best squads on the planet, talent alone does not win football matches. It’s the way the cool, calm and collected Frenchman has man-managed the talent which has been his major strength, rotating his squad to fruitful effect, most recently on Wednesday when he was left without Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, and Isco. No problem. Lucas Vazquez, Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio shone instead, especially the latter.

Additionally, Zidane keeps his players hungry and motivated - which is easier said than done - refusing to let them rest on their laurels, as they constantly strive for more. Real’s fight-to-the-end spirit saw them clinch the La liga title on the final day last season, and now he has an excellent chance to become the first Los Blancos boss to retain the Spanish title since Dutchman Leo Beenhakker (1987/88 & 1988/89).

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