Mauricio Pochettino favourite to replace Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 25 January 2018, 10:36

Earlier this month Zinedine Zidane marked his two year anniversary in charge of Real Madrid.

During this period the Frenchman has accumulated a whopping eight trophies, including back-to-back Champions League triumphs and the Spanish title, with five of those honours coming in 2017.

You’d think he’d be as safe as houses at the Bernabeu, but no, this is no ordinary club, this is Real Madrid.

On Wednesday night the Spanish giants hit a nadir after they were humiliated at home to Leganes in the Copa del Rey - losing on away goals - a failure which Zidane described as his worst moment as a coach.

“I am responsible for this, it is a failure for me today. I am very disappointed, and will take responsibility of all this.

"I am angry with myself, not with my players.”

Los Blancos have only played half of their 38 La Liga matches, but already their hopes of retaining the title - for only the second time since the late 1980s - are over.

At the time of writing they are down in 4th, a staggering 19 points adrift of league leaders Barcelona - the same margin of points seperates Madrid from 18th-placed Deportivo La Coruna, who are in the relegation zone.

The Champions League is now Real Madrid’s only hope of winning a major trophy this season. No manager in the history of the European Cup has ever won the competition three years in a row, while only Carlo Ancelotti and Bob Paisley have hoisted the famous trophy three times in their managrial careers.

Real Madrid may not even make it through to the quarter-finals of the competition, as they head into their match against French giants PSG as the underdogs to progress from their last-16 clash. The 12-time winners haven’t been dumped out at the last-16 stage since 2009/10 when they were stunned by Lyon - then manager Manuel Pellegrini was subsequently ditched at the end of the season.

Jose Mourinho is the only Los Blancos boss since Vicente del Bosque (1999-2003) to last three years at Real Madrid, and critics of Zidane are baying for his departure ahead of the club’s mouthwatering deul against PSG, which gets underway on Valentine’s Day.

Below we take a quick look at the top-3 contenders in the Next Real Madrid Manager Market.

Mauricio Pochettino

A deserved frontrunner. Pochettino, 2/1, arrived on English soil an unknown, but swatted away the doubters by working wonders at Southampton, before going on to elevate Tottenham to a new level.

It’s difficult to envision Pochettino leaving Spurs mid-way through the season, but should Madrid be managerless in the summer they could well try their luck then. Although it’s worth remembering that Spurs move into their new stadium next season, something Pochettino will no doubt be keen to be a part of.

Pochettino will manage a European giant in the future, but for now he’s staying at Spurs.

Joachim Low

Low has been in charge of Germany forever. Since succeeding Jurgen Klinsmann he's gone on to win his country their first World Cup (2014) since 1990, while they finished third in 2010, reached the Euro 2008 final, and then the semi-finals in the two subsequent editions of the tournament.

Simply put, Low is not leaving Germany before this summer’s World Cup, where he has the chance to become only the second manager in history to win the showpiece spectacle twice - Italy’s Vittorio Pozzo won back-to-back trophies in 1934 and 1938.

Low’s contract runs through to 2020, but should Real Madrid come calling after the World Cup, then his head could possibly be turned.

Antonio Conte

Since hoisting the Premier League in his debut season with Chelsea, Conte’s future has been up in the air. The Italian seems destined to leave at the end of the season, making him a tempting bet at 5/1 to jet over to the Spanish capital.

Conte has already hoisted league titles in Italy and England, and should he make the switch to Real, he’ll have his sights set on achieving this feat in Spain - Jose Mourinho is the only other manager to complete this “hat-trick”.

For those interested Cristiano Ronaldo is priced at 25/1 to make a stunning move into the dugout…

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