PETE JENSON: With Zidane gone, Real Madrid's rebuild can begin

PETE JENSON: Zinedine Zidane has fallen on his own sword but with Real Madrid in a deep depression it was right for him to go… after missing out on LaLiga, a complete rebuild is needed – and Florentino Perez wants Max Allegri to be the man to lead it

  • Real Madrid endured a trophyless campaign after falling short in LaLiga title race
  • Zinedine Zidane’s side were pipped on the final day by city rivals Atletico
  • Madrid wanted Zidane to leave but waited for him to fall on his own sword
  • Poor year is reflected in none of Madrid’s stars being picked for Spain
  • President Florentino Perez is keen on bringing in Max Allegri to replace Zidane

Just last week, Karim Benzema told L’Equipe that he believed Zinedine Zidane would end up staying at Real Madrid.

The club, too, are understood to have briefed several agents that the Frenchman would remain at the club… but just days later he has fallen on his own sword.

Sportsmail revealed two weeks ago that Zidane had told players he was leaving, but the decision was halted while he reflected on what comes next. Now it’s done, and for the second time in three years, he’s gone. 

Zinedine Zidane led Real Madrid to a trophyless season and has now resigned as manager

Real Madrid stars look on following their final day win over Villarreal, which was not enough for them to pip city rivals Atletico Madrid to the Spanish league title over the weekend

It’s a measure of Zidane’s status that, after Real Madrid finished the season empty-handed, it was the coach who got to make the final decision rather than the hierarchy pulling the trigger.

Earlier in the week, the deep depression hanging over Madrid deepened when Luis Enrique picked his Spain squad for the Euros without a single Real Madrid player in it.

While their managerial situation remains unclear, Madrid can’t yet take that big stride forward and out of the ruins, but at least now they can begin their search for Zidane’s successor. 

The Frenchman told players in the last few weeks of the campaign that his mind was made up and that he would walk away. After one lacklustre training session during the run-in he told players that they should raise their level because the title was at stake and that they should ‘win it for themselves’ because he wouldn’t be around next year.

Even his three Champions Leagues, two leagues, two European Super Cups, two Spanish Super Cups and two World Club cups – all won in under five years – did not force him to reconsider.

Zidane’s previous success, including three Champions League titles (pictured above in Kiev with his third in 2018), means Madrid gave him the option to walk rather than be axed

Real president Florentino Perez has been keen to install a new coach and wants Max Allegri

Zidane’s dissatisfaction stretched back to the end of last year when he became aware that they club were courting alternatives – Mauricio Pochettino among them – and that he would be out in the summer. 

He knows that the club president Perez wanted to bring in Max Allegri – an option that has not gone down well with Real Madrid supporters, who would prefer club legend Raul – currently in charge of their Castilla side – to take over following Zidane’s exit.

In an explosive press conference before a game against Huesca at the start of February Zidane demanded respect for himself and for his team reminding everyone that the side had won the league the previous season.

‘Tell me to my face if you want to get rid of me,’ he told reporters but the rant was meant more for the club’s president Perez than for the media who Zidane often sees as messengers for the powerbroker in the shadows.

Perez has targeted former Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri (right) but supporters are keener on club legend Raul (left), who has been in charge of the club’s Castilla side

Madrid embarked on an extraordinary 18-game unbeaten run after that uncharacteristically aggressive news conference and it meant that they went the distance in the title race. 

Finishing runners-up has not left everyone happy, however. Madrid suffered almost 60 different injuries and 10 players were affected by coronavirus positives but they were by no means the only club that had to fight against such mitigating circumstances.

Zidane stands accused of not using the depth of his squad in the best way and only calling on young players when they really was no choice left to him.

Madrid believe Zidane could have used his youth stars more including Miguel Guiterrez (left)

He has picked 54 different line-ups in his last 54 league games but the feeling is that he still did not rotate intelligently and that players such as Eder Militao, who starred late in the season, and youth team players Miguel Gutierrez and Antonio Blanco could and should have been used more. 

Madrid went out of the Spanish Cup against a third-tier side and although they reached the Champions League last four they were some way off of Chelsea’s standard when comfortably beaten in the semi-finals.

They did not win the league and none of their players are going to the Euros. It was the recipe for the axe to come down on the manager but Zidane’s status is such that he had to fall on his own sword.

And now that he’s gone, the rebuild can begin.

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