Nine months after a heartfelt and extremely shocking goodbye, Zinedine Zidane has returned to Real Madrid after one of their worst seasons in recent history as he aims to put everything back into place.
When the French manager left the club, he always had a feeling that he would one day return. “See you soon, maybe…” were his last words as he sat beside a Florentino Perez who looked extremely heartbroken. Zidane didn’t go too far as his home is in Madrid and his children are part of the academy but a return less than a year after his departure is something no one could have possible expected.
The Real Madrid board of directors, which met today, Monday 11 March 2019, has decided to terminate Santiago Solari’s contract as first-team coach, whilst Real Madrid have offered him the opportunity to remain at the club.
Real Madrid wish to thank Solari for his work, commitment and the loyalty that he has always displayed towards this club, which is his home.
The board of directors also agreed on the appointment of Zinedine Zidane as head coach of Real Madrid with immediate effect for the remainder of the season and the next three campaigns, until 30 June 2022.
The Real Madrid president will address the media alongside Zinedine Zidane at 8pm (CET) tonight in the Santiago Bernabéu media room.
-Official Real Madrid website
As the day wore on yesterday, the news of Zinedine Zidane gathered intense momentum as credible outlets confirmed that the French manager was in fact returning to the club while the main question was whether he would be given a long-term contract or asked to stay until the end of the season. The latter option made no sense as Los Blancos didn’t have anything to play for this year but anything was possible when it came to a massive Real Madrid decision. Once the move was finally confirmed, it was known that Zidane has signed a contract until 2022. Unlike the previous two managers we had this year in Julen Lopetegui or Santiago Solari (both signed until 2021), you get this feeling that the Frenchman is in fact here to stay. Florentino Perez cannot hide his admiration for him and you also get this feeling that the President was always going to try finding some way to make him return to his “home”.
During his official press conference, Zidane was asked countless times why he left back in May and more importantly about whether he feels like he made the incorrect decision at the time. Repeatedly, he made it clear that he had no regrets over that decision as he genuinely believed that the club desperately needed a change. He has to be respected for that move as it was something that many felt sad about but also it made people realize that this is a man that knows what he’s doing. Zidane’s decision to leave in May was absolutely perfect and had it gone a different way, he know that he may have never really returned to the club. But it went just like he knew: The club needed a bigger change than just the manager and after the trials of Lopetegui and Solari came to a horrible end, the son of this club returns to his throne and risks his incredible legacy in order to bring Real Madrid back to the top.
Zidane comes in with promises of “big changes” to the club. It’s too soon to speak about what the changes may or may not be but there are certain things that I feel we can all agree on happening such as the sale of Gareth Bale and maybe even the arrival of Eden Hazard from Chelsea. Just like any manager that joins a new club, the rumors come out right away as media outlets already went on their usual frenzy by suggesting that the French manager has asked for N’Golo Kante, Christian Eriksen, Eden Hazard and Kylian Mbappe. Well, don’t keep your hopes too high as maybe only one of those players could end up arriving.
Even though nine months may not seem like a very long time, we all witnessed how much has changed since Zidane’s departure. The players may still be there but mentality, hunger, determination, are all gone. Zidane’s return is not easy and shouldn’t be regarded by the fans as a foregone conclusion that we will be back to the top a year from now but if there is anyone that can get the job done, it is Zinedine Zidane. This is a man who left because he knew things were crumbling at the club and if he’s back, it is simply because he truly believes that he is able to fix it.
A part of me can’t help but feel sorry for Santiago Solari who accepted the job as Real Madrid were on their way to one of the worst declines we have seen. His humbleness and loyalty to the club ensured that he would stay as manager however long it takes and that ended yesterday while the club confirmed in their official statement that he has a place at the club if he wishes to stay.
Many managers may have not returned to the most difficult job in football after completing a historic three years with them but Zinedine Zidane has returned simply because of his love for this club. He admitted that he did not even think about his “legacy” as his decision to return was because he received the phone call from Florentino Perez and he felt like he was prepared to take over this job once again.
In a season that many fans will be in a rush to forget, the club have given us hope once again. Of course, we will have to be patient as our best hope for this season is winning the remainder of our games but then the summer is coming and with it begins the true test for Zinedine Zidane. On Saturday night, the French manager will take charge of his 150th Real Madrid match and begins his journey to making history with the club once again.