Zidane leaves Real Madrid: Coach steps down for a second time

By Sports Desk May 27, 2021

Zinedine Zidane's second spell as head coach of Real Madrid is over after the club announced the departure of the Frenchman.

The former 'galactico', a majestic playmaker who dazzled crowds at the Santiago Bernabeu and beyond, Zidane returned to Madrid for two spells as coach.

Now his era is over, with Madrid stating on Thursday: "Real Madrid announces that Zinedine Zidane has decided to end his current spell as coach of our club.

"It is now time to respect his decision and show him our appreciation for his professionalism, dedication and passion in all these years, and for what he represents to Real Madrid.

"Zidane is one of Real Madrid's great icons and his legacy extends beyond what he has achieved as a coach and player at our club.

"He is aware that he has a place in the hearts of the Real Madrid fans and that he will always have a home at Real Madrid."

In his first spell, from January 2016 to May 2018, Zidane delivered an astonishing three successive Champions League triumphs and one LaLiga title.

Drawn back to the club in March 2019, his second tenure did not prove quite as successful, although he led Madrid to LaLiga success in the 2019-20 season.

He departs after a barren campaign on the trophy front, however, with Madrid losing early to minnows Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey, edged out by Chelsea in the Champions League semi-finals, and pipped to the Spanish title by Atletico Madrid.

Zidane, 48, had been tipped to depart for weeks, with the confirmation of his exit coming as no surprise to most, although Madrid striker Karim Benzema told L'Equipe this week: "I don't see him leaving. He will not leave, you will see."

Now Madrid must find a worthy successor. Their former striker Raul has been linked with the post but is inexperienced, and Massimiliano Allegri emerged as an early favourite as whispers of Zidane's decision emerged.

However Allegri, who won a Serie A title with Milan in 2011 and added five more with Juventus, is reportedly returning to the Turin giants as a replacement for Andrea Pirlo.

Antonio Conte, who left Inter on Wednesday, may be in the Madrid frame, while Joachim Low, who will step down as Germany coach after Euro 2020, could also be a contender.

Whoever takes the job will inherit a side who finished 2020-21 in fine form.

Madrid ended their LaLiga campaign on an 18-game unbeaten run, winning 13 and drawing five in that sequence to apply pressure on one-time runaway leaders Atletico, taking the title battle to the final day.

That goes down as their best run without defeat in a single league season since Carlo Ancelotti's Madrid also strung together 18 unbeaten games in the 2013-14 campaign, winning 15 times.

Related items

  • Des Buckingham feels heavy schedule caught up with Oxford Des Buckingham feels heavy schedule caught up with Oxford

    Oxford boss Des Buckingham felt the heavy schedule of three games in six days took its toll on his team as they were held 1-1 by Stevenage at the Kassam Stadium.

    It means it is effectively no longer in Oxford’s hands to reach the League One play-offs because Lincoln are three points behind them with a game in hand and a superior goal difference.

    Buckingham felt the decision not to award the U’s a penalty when Marcus Browne appeared to have been fouled by keeper Craig MacGillivray in the first half was crucial.

    They had to come from behind as Stevenage went in front through a Sam Long own goal in the 32nd minute, Cameron Brannagan replying from the penalty spot on 58 minutes when Carl Piergianni fouled Ruben Rodrigues – though that appeared to have been outside the box.

    Buckingham said: “To play three games in six days is a big ask.

    “We had 26 shots but couldn’t get that second goal we needed.

    “There was a clear penalty not given in the first half, and for us that’s the second game in a row that one hasn’t been given when it should have been. It was a huge moment in the game, and very frustrating.

    “The referee told me he couldn’t see it, but the linesman was only 15 yards away and had a clear view.

    “I’m delighted with the performance but ultimately we’ve got just the four points from these three home games, now we need to make sure we prepare right and get three in the last one at Exeter.

    “When we looked to rearrange the Lincoln game we chose this week because it was a free week, then Sky told us they wanted to bring this Stevenage one forward and show it on the Friday night which meant three games in six days.

    “There was nothing we could do about it, but had we known they were going to do that, we would have played the Lincoln game another week.

    “It’s going to be a tight finish – I wouldn’t rule out Blackpool either, and they’ve got to play Barnsley.”

    Stevenage had lost manager Steve Evans in the week, with Evans heading north to become Rotherham boss.

    Caretaker boss Alex Revell said: “Steve always had two clubs very much in his heart – this one and Rotherham. Believe me, making the decision was probably the hardest thing he’s had to do, he said.

    “I wanted to take today and make the players ready. I really enjoyed it because they gave everything.

    “I’m very proud of what the lads did tonight.

    “We had a great day yesterday in terms of training and getting ready and trying to get a few bits into them.

    “They came to a really tough place and worked so hard for each other.

    “In spells we created some half-chances, probably not enough, but it was about showing our togetherness as a club and our spirit.

    “I think we showed why we have caused teams problems this season, especially with our energy and our workrate.

    “The first penalty shout against us was a penalty and should have been given so we got away with that.

    “But it doesn’t mean that something that started outside the box should be a penalty. Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

  • Mauricio Pochettino not expecting a vulnerable Man City in FA Cup semi-final Mauricio Pochettino not expecting a vulnerable Man City in FA Cup semi-final

    Mauricio Pochettino warned his Chelsea players not to expect to come up against a vulnerable Manchester City side when the teams meet in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final.

    City go into the game off the back of playing extra time against Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday night before eventually being knocked out on penalties, leaving less than 72 hours recovery time ahead of stepping out at Wembley.

    Pep Guardiola has had to deal with fatigue amongst his ranks in recent weeks, with midfielder Rodri admitting to needing a rest earlier this month. He was subsequently left out of the team for last weekend’s win over Luton at the Etihad Stadium but returned to the starting XI for the defeat to Real.

    They are still in contention to retain two of the three trophies they won last season, holding a two-point lead over Arsenal and Liverpool in the Premier League title race in addition to Saturday’s meeting with Pochettino’s side as they seek a third FA Cup triumph in six seasons.

    Chelsea will return to the scene of their Carabao Cup final loss to Liverpool in February, after which they were heavily criticised for failing to overcome a Reds team decimated by injury.

    Jurgen Klopp’s side triumphed in extra time despite finishing the game with four highly inexperienced academy graduates aged 21 or under on the pitch.

    And Pochettino insisted there will be no easy ride for his players as City lick their European wounds.

    “The good example is Liverpool,” he said. “People were talking about too many injured players, how many young kids they had playing. Look what happened after.

    “From our point of view, we are going to compete against Manchester City. If you ask me about their situation, I can give my opinion, but we are not talking about that. We are going to compete against them.

    “Today we were preparing, doing meetings, about the Manchester City that played against Real Madrid, that played against us in the Premier League.

    “We are not talking about playing one (City line-up) or playing another. For me, the strength of Manchester City is that they keep the same idea and the same philosophy.

    “In the last five, six, seven years, even with different players, they play in the same way, they have the structure to dominate and to create chances and to win games and to win trophies.

    “I understand the situation is tough for them after playing 120 minutes in the Champions League. Emotionally, you expend a big energy. It’s about how they recover now.

    “They are going be competitive and they have an amazing staff that look after the players. They’re going to put 11 players that will play with full energy to try and win the game.”

    Pochettino will have Enzo Fernandez available for selection after he missed Monday’s 6-0 demolition of Everton.

    The manager said the World Cup winner’s fitness will be carefully managed following reports this week in Argentina that he requires a hernia operation.

    “We are not looking for heroes,” said Pochettino.

  • Pep Guardiola says Cole Palmer is one of the players of the season Pep Guardiola says Cole Palmer is one of the players of the season

    Pep Guardiola admits Chelsea’s former Manchester City starlet Cole Palmer has been one of the players of the season.

    The City manager has also revealed the 21-year-old England midfielder had been trying to leave the Etihad Stadium for two years prior to his £42.5million switch to Stamford Bridge last summer.

    Palmer, who was considered one of City’s brightest Academy products, has been Chelsea’s most influential performer since he moved south in search of more first-team opportunities.

    Palmer has scored 25 goals this season, 11 of which have come in his last six appearances.

    He heads into Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final showdown with former club City at Wembley fresh from a four-goal salvo against Everton on Monday.

    Guardiola said: “Cole has been the decisive player, maybe of the season, in many aspects.

    “He’s an exceptional player. We knew that when he was here.

    “We know how he’s proving (himself), but he has had a lot of minutes. I said many times, I didn’t give him the minutes when maybe he deserved it. He wanted the minutes he now has at Chelsea.

    “I understand completely. I’m happy for him because he’s a lovely guy, a shy guy. He has an incredible potential, otherwise he would not have been here.

    “He’s playing good. He’s an incredible threat. He’s playing fantastically.”

    Palmer was a member of the City squad that won the treble last season and he began the current campaign strongly with goals for Guardiola’s side in the Community Shield and European Super Cup.

    Yet despite attempts to persuade the Wythenshawe-born player to stay with his hometown club, his mind to move on before the end of the summer transfer window had long been made up.

    Guardiola said: “So what can I say? The decision has been made for many reasons. He was asking for two seasons to leave.

    “I said, ‘No, stay’. At the end, (he said), ‘No, I want to leave’. What can we do? I said in pre-season, ‘Stay because Riyad (Mahrez) has gone’. He said, ‘No, I want to leave’.

    “After two seasons, what can you say? So go there. Playing at that level is exceptional. Everybody knows it.”

    City’s hopes of winning a second successive treble were dashed on Wednesday as they suffered an agonising penalty shoot-out defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals.

    Their focus is now on defending the domestic double, a feat no side has previously achieved, but Guardiola prefers not to view the targets in those terms.

    Guardiola said: “We were close again (to the treble) but it didn’t happen.

    “So my advice about trebles or doubles or these things is, why are we not focused on Chelsea? It’s enough of a target to think about.

    “When you have one or two games left to the end of the Premier League and you are already in the FA Cup final, I can answer you perfectly.

    “We’ve felt, two times, how strong Chelsea are. They are really, really difficult.

    “So, win that game and see what happens the next three, four, five games in the Premier League and after we will see.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.