Real Madrid Rehires Zinedine Zidane as Its Coach

Real Madrid Rehires Zinedine Zidane as Its Coach

Madrid sits third in La Liga, behind not only Barcelona but also its city rival, Atlético; it is out of the Copa del Rey; and, most damaging of all, it was eliminated by Ajax in the last 16 of the Champions League last week, losing the second leg of the tie by 4-1 at home. “We are going through a difficult and complicated moment,” Pérez said. “We know what pain that brings the fans.”

Little wonder, then, that Zidane — just as he did when he left Madrid, five days after lifting the third of those Champions Leagues — took to the rostrum once again speaking of the need for change. “This club is what had to and has to change,” he said. “Things have to change, in every way. We have to change for next season.”

The nature of the change, though, is likely to be very different: Real must transform from a position of relative weakness, rather than strength. That is likely to mean a considerable overhaul of the playing staff: Pérez had long since accepted the need for an injection of funds into the team this coming summer, with the likes of Eden Hazard, the Chelsea forward, under consideration to join a third incarnation of the so-called Galactico project. Several high-profile members of the current squad, including Isco and Gareth Bale, may well have to be sacrificed to balance the books.

The principal difference, then, is Zidane’s energy for the challenge. “I left the club because I needed it, for me, though at the time the club did not,” he said. “Since I love the president, and the club, I am here. After eight months, I want to coach again.”

He has spent the last nine months, he said, “recharging my batteries, doing my things.” His list of honors, the unbroken European success he enjoyed in his first and only managerial role, ensured that he had not been short of suitors — he said he had received offers from several other teams — but none offered the emotional allure of Real.

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