Having been appointed a couple of weeks ago to replace Rafa Benitez, Real Madrid's new head coach Zinedine Zidane brought in his own coaching team as expected. Like most newly-appointed head coaches in his position, Zidane chose to rely on people he knew he could work with and trust. It didn't seem to take two minutes though for people to start asking questions about their credentials and to point out that Zidane's coaching team was relatively inexperienced to be driving a big club like Real Madrid. The problem is that in transitioning from Castilla, people assume that Zidane's staff are only experienced at Castilla's level. The reality is that being involved with Castilla they are all part of the Real Madrid club anyway and as such are fully aware of what is required. In any case, they'll all have been associated with the first team set-up long before they stepped up to take charge of it.
The main figure in the new team, David Bettoni, has known Zidane for years and they played together in the same side at Cannes. Widely referred to as Zidane's assistant, Bettoni also played in the lower leagues in Italy while Zidane was at Juventus and experience in football is certainly not something he's lacking. The media have pointed out that Bettoni doesn't currently hold a full UEFA Pro Coaching Licence; and as such he's not qualified to give instructions from the bench during matches. The club quickly issued a statement pointing out that David is not employed in the role of assistant coach; "but is part of the technical team that assist the head coach", Zinedane Zidane.
The UEFA Pro Licence is the highest coaching qualification available and it does what it says. It licences the holder to work as a coach in the professional game. The qualification doesn't differentiate between being a head coach or an assistant; you just need to have it to officially use the title of coach at senior pro level. The qualification is Europe-wide and standardised; taking eighteen months to obtain no matter what country you take the course in. Commensurate with it's status as the highest award, anyone sitting for the UEFA Pro Licence needs to have obtained all the other qualifications on the coaching ladder leading up to the UEFA Pro award before applying. Experience of the game at senior level is typically required of all candidates. The courses are nearly always over-subscribed since many players see coaching as a way to stay in the professional game once their playing days are over.
Not having the Pro Licence, however, doesn't necessarily suggest that someone is a bad coach; just that they don't have the required licensure to work at professional level. The course covers all aspects of the game from fitness and training to financial matters, management, tactics, and employment law. It's a very thorough course and was initially brought in as a learning tool to help people new to football management who were finding themselves in positions where they were having to make decisions over matters with which they were unfamiliar - such as finances and contractual affairs for example - and to provide a degree of professional recognition. In real terms on the training pitch, a UEFA Pro Licenced coach isn't necessarily a better coach than a UEFA ‘A' coach; which is the qualification below the Pro Licence. The difference lies in that the UEFA Pro Licenced coach would be expected to possess a deeper understanding of other footballing matters. The main skills lie in having the required practical ability to actually be capable of coaching professional footballers in the first place, and in getting the best out of the players under his or her charge.
Zinedine Zidane has put together a backroom team that he knows and trusts. One of the staff who is certainly going to find it "challenging" at first team level is Hamidou Msaidie. Zidane took him to Castilla from France where he worked with the French Football Federation; and he carries the reputation as a specialist in injury rehabilitation. Hamidou's background isn't only limited to football and he's worked in athletics in addition to private practice before coming to Castilla. It's going to be interesting to see what he makes of the medical set-up in Madrid given the rumours that abound and exactly what role he's going to be expected to play within it. Although Hamidou hasn't stepped up to Real Madrid as part of the medical team, his background and knowledge of injury matters might turn out to be an obstacle if personalities begin to clash over the treatment and rehabilitation methods employed.
Luis LLopis also moves up to senior level as goalkeeping coach; having worked at Levante in the past with Joaquin Caparros and he now has the opportunity to establish himself in the first team role. Goalkeeping coaches have changed along with the head coaches in recent times, having been allied first to Carlo Ancelotti and then to Rafa Benitez. Bernardo Requena has also come on to the first team staff as fitness coach from Castilla. Another experienced professional, Bernardo has previously worked at Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao (again with Caparros) in addition to being instrumental in Jese's recovery from ACL surgery while part of Real's medical / fitness staff.
Zidane has wasted no time in recruiting a coaching and fitness staff far more experienced in football than it would appear that they're being given credit for. He's actively sought out people whom he feels have a lot to offer within their own particular speciality and if he's got the confidence in them to involve them in his new backroom team then he's clearly sure that they will deliver what he is asking. No doubt their work is going to be scrutinised by all - as tends to be the normal in football - but as long as they are proved to be successful in what they do, the critics will soon fall silent.