MILAN: In leading Real Madrid to their 11th European Cup less than five months after inheriting an unhappy team from Rafael Benitez, Zinedine Zidane has cemented his heroic status at the Bernabeu and appears to have assured his immediate future.
Although neither Zidane nor Real’s notoriously trigger happy president Florentino Perez have confirmed whether the French coach would remain in charge, there could be no political capital gained from axing the coach now.
The Frenchman has enjoyed special status since his wondrous volley against Bayer Leverkusen won the 2002 Champions League, although he must know Saturday’s shootout victory over Atletico Madrid does not guarantee him a long future at the club.
He only needs to look at the fate of the last two coaches to lead Real to European glory, Vicente del Bosque and Carlo Ancelotti, both sacked 12 months later, as a reminder of that.
The only Real coach to create any sort of dynasty was Miguel Munoz, like Zidane a European Cup winner as a Real midfielder, who spent 14 years in charge, winning Europe’s top prize in 1960 and 1966 and nine La Liga titles.
Having conquered Europe with Real as a player, coach and assistant, Zidane’s next task is to wrest the La Liga title back from Barcelona, who finished a solitary point above his side.
Zidane picked up more points than Barca and Atletico since succeeding Benitez on Jan. 4, including victories in the last 12 games, although the football his team played lacked the sparkle of Luis Enrique’s championship-winning side.