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Man Utd Managerial Debate

Is Zidane the Man?

Photo by Tom Grimbert on Unsplash

After a poor start to the season for Man Utd and vast criticism from mainstream media, pundits and fans alike questions are being asked of Jose Mourinho. Is he still the right man for the job or is it time for a change on the sidelines of Old Trafford?

As of October 6th (the date of Man United’s impressive comeback against Newcastle at home in the Premier League), Zinedine Zidane is the favourite (according to oddschecker) to become the next Manchester United manager. Despite having less than 200 matches as a manager his managerial accolades are astounding. Winning the UEFA Champions League four times leading to a chance to win two UEFA Supercups and two FIFA Club World Cups. He also won La Liga, Copa Del Rey and the domestic super cup all within less than two and a half years as Real Madrid manager, after progressing from managing Real Madrid Castilla (Real Madrid B as it is colloquially known). In his 149 matches in charge of Real Madrid, he lead them to 105 victories scoring an average of 2.3 points per game. During this time Real Madrid scored on average 2.67 goals per game and conceded on average 1.09.

While at Real Madrid Zidane predominantly used an attacking 4-3-3 with a midfield anchored by Casemiro. This allowed for his very well rounded midfield duo of Modric and Kroos to supply the front three while maintaining width by either using advanced full backs or allowing the wider members of the front three to drift towards the sidelines without concern for a counter attack being mounted against them due to the destructive nature of Casemiro’s game. Later in his time at Madrid Zidane preferred a 4-3-1-2 moving Isco into a creative role as a 10 and allowing Ronaldo to play more centrally as a poacher due to his age and the frequent injury of Garet Bale. Due to the quality of the players at his disposal, Zidane rarely had any reason to vary his tactics as he was often capable of simply imposing his style of play on the opposition. In certain specific matches, he did require some minor tweaks of personnel and formation in order to take advantage of specific weaknesses of the opposition and this would often come during the match. This adaptability was shown against Juventus in last seasons Champions League semi-final, in which, he used Vazquez and Asensio as traditional wingers in a 4-4-2 in order to make better use of the wide spaces. This was a rare occurrence and allowed him to create plenty of consistency across his tenure. This factor also meant he required very few signings and often looked to youth prospects such as Asensio as opposed to signing new faces. His consistency in selection, predominantly attacking football and development of youth are among the reasons many Man Utd fans are calling for him to become the next manager.

There remain questions of if he is up to the job. For example, how capable is he in the transfer window? During his time as Real Madrid manager, he signed just four players (three of which currently play elsewhere). All four were purchased in order to be future prospects or strengthen the depth of the squad. Some could argue the strength of Real Madrid's starting line up required no upgrades. If he were to become Man Utd manager he may need to sign more than just squad depth players, especially considering some of the ageing players (Young and Valencia especially) in the squad, the lack of a natural right-sided winger and constant rumours surrounding departures. His ability to manage at the highest level without players at the calibre of Ronaldo, Ramos, Kroos, Modric etc has also been called into question. 

Information is taken from TransferMarkt.

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