Raphael Varane, the subject of endless speculation in the media at the moment, offered some brief thoughts on Zidane’s homecoming. Despite the universally lauded return of the French manager to Real Madrid’s hot seat, it is important to reflect on the persistent and vocal criticism that followed his original appointment in 2016 and his original stint as first team coach.
“It is curious that there were the same doubts about him when he became a coach in January 2016 as there with me before the World Cup[.] He has managed to silence the critics and has shown his ability to lead the largest club in the world[.]” - Raphael Varane
It took a breathtaking and scorching trophy laden run for journalists and fans to finally accept that the French manager knew what he was doing. And even then, questions continue to be asked about his tactical acumen and his ability to oversee the evolution of a somewhat saturated squad.
Amidst the effusive celebrations when official word arrived that Zidane would be coming back to the club, there was a melancholic cloud that hung above certain factions of the fanbase. There is a feeling that the manager is risking his legacy. It’s more than a feeling. Zidane exceeded any and all expectations with his accomplishments from January of 2016 to when he departed the club last summer. His mammoth achievements in that timeframe cemented his individual standing at the very top of not only Real Madrid, but football’s ladder of excellence. He is an immense source of pride and affirmation for all followers of the club — a bright shining light that stood untainted by the unforgiving nature of time or the club’s relentless ambition.
Zidane must now contend with the same force that has brought Solari down. The force that transformed the latter from a beloved anecdote of the club’s glorious past to a very symbol of its current state of disrepair. And having to witness that is a scary proposition. The swaying bloc that came around from doubting Zidane in 2016 to proclaiming him the man with the magic wand that will lead the club out of the shadows will turn again. If results spin out of control, if trophies do not arrive, if things go wrong - there is very little question who will be held responsible.
Same sword they knight you they gon’ good night you with
That’s only half if they like you
That ain’t even the half what they might do
While Zidane is no ordinary man and seems to possess the undeniable touch of gold, optimism going forward must be extremely guarded. In truth, nothing that happens can really change the magnificence of Zidane and Real Madrid’s beautiful union to date. But even so, one hopes we don’t have to find out just how strong our faith in the man in charge is.