How quickly things can change.
One minute you’re winning an historic Champions League treble; the next facing the possible sack. Is the love affair between Real Madrid and Zinedine Zidane over?
Not just yet, but the current signs all seem too familiar. With a heavy 3-0 defeat against an injury-hit Paris Saint-Germain side came the criticism. Zidane out! Where’s the midfield? Florentino, act now! At Real Madrid, even if you hold legendary status like that of ‘Zizou’, the sack is never far away.
And it seems closer than ever for the Frenchman following a start to the season that has left plenty wondering what Zidane, and Madrid’s, plan is – if there is one at all.
A chaotic pre-season should have been taken with a pinch of salt but the warning signs were there. Injuries, insufficient back-ups and a loss of faith in players who are now key first-team regulars such as Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez.
Los Blancos have not been at full-strength yet this season but recent matches have suggested the debut of Eden Hazard and the return of key players such as captain Sergio Ramos and the injured Luka Modric will change little.
If there is a plan it is not obvious. If there is confidence it is not apparent. If there is desire it is not showing. Nobody knows exactly what this Madrid side is, least of all the man seemingly leading the ship.
There is, of course time, but that luxury is rarely granted at the Santiago Bernabéu. Zidane has yet to field his strongest eleven owing to injuries and suspensions but with tough matches at Sevilla, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona coming up, the biggest test may well lay ahead.
There is Also the club’s transfer policy. While many are now calling for Zidane to be sacked, the Frenchman could indeed also walk away given the failure to sign Paul Pogba in the summer. Madrid’s lack of midfield has been obvious, almost purposeful, with Zidane desperate to bring in the Manchester United player to bolster the middle of the park.
With that deal failing to materialise, reportedly due to the club’s desire to look elsewhere for midfield talent, things have not been rosy behind closed doors.
There are problems left, right and centre and with few resolutions in sight. Zidane is walking a tightrope at Real Madrid and we all know how these situations end if the results fail to materialise. The next few weeks are key.