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Zidane makes a statement, shows he's in charge

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Zinedine Zidane seems to be making it perfectly clear that he's the one in charge of team affairs at Real Madrid.

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From his body language throughout the Las Palmas game to his comments afterwards, you could tell that he wasn't impressed with events on the night.  It would appear that the honeymoon is over as far he's concerned and it may well be that some of the players also feel the same way.  The next few weeks aren't going to be the easiest for anyone involved in the first team unless they take on the message that his views are the ones that matter in the dressing rooms.

If reports are to believed that he is also going to responsible for who is staying at the club and who is leaving, then Zidane moves immediately into a position of strength that few players (or staff) will be able to argue with.  As far as first team matters are concerned, he holds all the aces provided of course that the reports are true.  As Lucas mentioned earlier on managingmadrid.com Zidane will have crossed that fine line between being a head coach to a given number of players and acting as a manager who can bring in those of his own choice.

This is a vital differentiation to make and is one that especially needs to be emphasised behind the scenes whatever the public impression of how the team is run might be.

To go from the position of head coach answerable to the president, to a manager-coach still answerable to the president but on different and more favourable terms, gives Zidane a head start on his predecessors.   We've all heard the rumours that certain restrictions were placed on various aspects of team selection in the past, and I guess we'll never really get to know the real story.  Although if the new model of Real Madrid is designed to give Zidane and his team a fresh start then maybe the focus should move to what happens from now on instead of looking back too much.

With regards to being given the full backing and support of the president, that's an area that only Florentino Perez will be in a position to comment on.  Zidane spoke recently in a half tongue-in-cheek manner when asked about potential new signings for next season and laughed that he might not be here himself in the summer.  That's a conversation that needs to be held right away and in this case the outcome does need to be clarified if there's going to be any kind of stability behind the signs.

Many a true word is spoken in jest and there's no point in being given the freedom to manage if you don't think you're going to be there long enough to do it.  Any new manager / coach is traditionally thought to be at his strongest in the first few weeks but those days are now beginning to slip by and Zidane appears to be becoming more public and less private with his thoughts.  It's almost as if he needs to get the message across outside the changing room as well that he's the one in charge.

One disturbing example of this the other night was the exchange in the media between Zidane and Brazil coach Carlos Dunga over whether Marcelo is fit enough to play for Brazil at the present time.  It was reported in Marca that Marcelo would be left out of the next Brazil game; with Dunga stating that "the Brazil team doctor spoke to the Real Madrid doctor and we have decided to rest Marcelo, as he has had a lot of injuries lately."

It did not go down well.  Denying that such a conversation had ever taken place, Zidane immediately accused Dunga of lying; and stated that nobody from the Brazilian camp had spoken to anyone at the club about Marcelo and his current fitness status.  This was on Monday night and statements about the fitness of Real Madrid players coming from outside media sources were the last thing Zidane needed to hear after the Las Palmas game.

To date there has been no response from the Brazilians to Zidane's comments; suggesting perhaps that there has been a misunderstanding, but we will watch and wait.  Marcelo's had a few injuries this season as we all know and perhaps the Brazilians were worried about this.  In the light of the current negative press when players return with injuries from international duty, such concerns would be perfectly understandable.  Potentially, someone on the Brazil coaching or medical staff might have suggested speaking to Madrid about it but never actually got around to making the call; and Dunga simply jumped in with a premature statement.

Zidane needs to get to the bottom of this as quickly as possible though.  If he feels Marcelo is fit enough to play for Real Madrid and also fit enough to play for his country then he wouldn't have been expecting to hear anything from Dunga, and certainly not via the media.  You would imagine that a discussion will already have taken place between Zidane and Marcelo by now but if not then it's another of those conversations that he needs to have; only this one needs to be sooner rather than later.