AFTER an emergency board meeting on January 4, Rafael Benitez has been sacked from his position as Real Madrid manager with Galactico legend Zinedine Zidane taking over immediately.
Former Liverpool and Inter Milan manager Benitez was just seven months into his three year contract but had experienced a difficult transition period. Fan complaints about the style of play and reported unrest among players overshadowed what has been a by no means terrible start to the season. A 4-0 defeat to Barcelona in November’s El Clasico will have done little to endear him to the board or supporters, however.
After Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Gary Neville’s Valencia, the veteran Spanish coach accused the media of a negative campaign against him in what was likely the death knell of his doomed Los Blancos venture.
The appointment of French footballing legend Zidane, who arrived at the Bernabeu from Juventus in 2001 as the world’s most expensive player (under half the price of Gareth Bale at a mere £48 million), by president Florentino Perez, is a bold move.
Zidane has no senior management experience, although he has been coaching the B team since 2014, but he is intimately familiar with the club’s notorious hierarchy and already has formidable credit as a huge fan favourite.
“Firstly I would like to thank the club and the president for giving me the chance to coach this team,” he said when announced as new manager. “I’m more emotional now than when I signed as a player.”
Real Madrid currently sit third in La Liga, four points behind city rivals Atletico and will face Roma in the last 16 of the Champions League in February.