Man United to sign Zidane or Antonio Conte as next Manager

It was a common sight at Real Madrid’s training ground during his first coaching spell – Zinedine Zidane pinging balls into the area and Cristiano Ronaldo blasting them in.

Just as habitual were his confabs with Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos and Luka Modric. Zidane won two leagues and three European Cups over two stints at the club and the success was based on the tightest of relationships with the team’s best players.

Having been a great player himself, he understood them. It was the chemistry that brought trophies rather than grand tactical projects or one-to-one work to improve the squad’s lesser lights.

That should not undervalue what he achieved. As former Madrid player Predrag Mijatovic once said: ‘You can only call a Champions League winner lucky once.’ Zidane won it three times.

But it was success thanks to strong personalities — his own and those he made leaders of the dressing room — as opposed to season-to-season reinvention or even game-time intervention to change matches.

Success at Manchester United would depend on how well he could repeat that. In Ronaldo, Paul Pogba and Raphael Varane, he would certainly have one of his generals in each line of the team.

One of the reasons he left Real Madrid the first time around is that he understood the club were selling Ronaldo. He urged Real Madrid to sign Paul Pogba on several occasions, first in 2016.

His relationship with Raphael Varane goes back to 2011 when he called him to persuade him to join the club instead of moving to Old Trafford.

One thing Zidane never really brought to the Madrid job was any marked improvement in young players.

His failure to develop the 21-year-old Brazilian Vinicius and his 20-year-old compatriot Rodrygo has been exposed by Carlo Ancelotti, who has moulded both into first-team starters this season.

And it’s also a bit of a myth that Madrid’s football was tantalizing under Zidane.

In his tailored suit on the touchline, he was sometimes the most stylish thing about them particularly when they won the league in the 2019-20 season.

They won 10 of their last 11 games but six of those victories were by a one-goal advantage with three workmanlike 1-0 wins included. The glint of silverware at the end of the season made up for the lustreless displays en route to the title.

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