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Back-to-back Champions League winners medals has never been done before in the modern era (27 years), but Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid pulled it off in some style with a 4-1 win over Juventus at the final in Cardiff.
In that understated, super cool style that has become Zidane’s trademark, the mercurial Frenchman has transitioned almost seamlessly from an outstanding, elite player to a world class manager.
Some managers strive their entire career to win just one Champions League title. Zidane has now won two consecutively – in his first two seasons as a manager, no less, and with no previous top level managerial experience. It begs the question: Is Zinedine Zidane now the best manager in the world?
Zidane’s only previous role in coaching was as manager of Real Madrid Castilla, the club’s second team which play in the lower tiers of Spanish football.
To come in and impose himself on a club the size of Real Madrid, therefore, even taking into account his incredible record as a player, is some achievement. This is, after all, a club that chews up elite coaches and spits them out. Just ask Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti or Rafa Benitez.
Zinedine Zidane’s managerial record
After Cardiff, Zidane’s managerial record now reads: 87 games, 66 wins, 14 draws, 7 defeats. His Real Madrid team has scored 250 goals, conceded 94 and averages 2.44 points per game up to and including the 4-1 Champions League win over Juventus. Some record for a man in his first top job.
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadrid) June 3, 2017
Zidane has won praise from his players for the way he has managed the squad this season. Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the many to come out and openly support Zidane, despite the Frenchman often choosing to rest the Ballon D’Or winner – something which tended to infuriate Ronaldo under previous managers.
“The boss has managed things very well this year,” Ronaldo commented in May. “I have been rested a bit more this year in order to be in good shape at the end of the season. It has worked well as this is when things are decided.”
Zidane is the first manager since Arrigo Sacchi to retain the European Cup / Champions League. Many argue that in its current format it is even harder to win the Champions League than it was in Sacchi’s era, due to the increased amount of games and the greater demands of the modern game.
Zidane hasn’t even yet completed two full years as a first team coach, but he has now won La Liga and two Champions Leagues. When you also consider that he barely spent in the summer, merely tweaking Real Madrid’s current squad and imposing his own ideas before winning the double, his feats are quite remarkable.
Already he is approaching Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti‘s record of three European Cup / Champions League wins as manager, and in winning in Cardiff Zidane has almost immediately equalled the likes of Helenio Herrera, Sir Alex Ferguson, Brian Clough, Sacchi, Ottmar Hitzfeld and Mourinho in winning two European titles.
While the likes of Pep Guardiola, Juergen Klopp and Mourinho are widely and often regarded as the world’s best managers, Zinedine Zidane’s managerial record now means he must surely come into the conversation. Is he the world’s best manager?
With five trophies already, one league title and two Champions League since becoming a manager on January 4th 2016, and the double in his first full season, it’s certainly up for debate.
Last question for today then. Is Zinedine Zidane now the best manager in the world? #UCLfinal
— Just Football (@JustFootball) June 3, 2017
Main image credit: Power axle via Flickr.