After Zinedine Zidane returned to his post at Real Madrid in March earlier this year, proceedings were supposed to have been far smoother than what has happened already this season.
Los Blancos’ hierarchy knew it was time to invest heavily into the squad and brought in a number of superstar recruits in all areas of the pitch. Eder Militao, bought for £45 million from FC Porto, was the first. A combative defender who can play as a full back or in the centre of defence.
The other big hitters this summer were: Rodrygo, £40 million, Ferland Mendy, £43 million, Luka Jovic, £54 million and Eden Hazard, £90 million.
Real Madrid spent a fortune to appease Zidane and, apart from Paul Pogba, practically received every player he asked for this summer. However, what he was not granted was the ability to sell James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale – two players he is now having to awkwardly rely on to get his team out of trouble.
The French manager has been under scrutiny since returning – which is normal given Real’s fans are ruthless – but this time it feels that a few more poor results before Christmas and the President, Florentino Perez, will not think twice about moving him to one side and bringing in a replacement.
The performance away in Paris was wholly disappointing. Due to the 3-0 thumping at the hands of Thomas Tuchel’s team, their odds of winning the competition, offered by William Hill, have now slumped to 11/1.
Real Madrid have lacked their clinical edge, which was, of course, so prevalent when Cristiano Ronaldo was leading the line. While Karim Benzema et al have stepped up somewhat since the Portugal international’s departure, Real need their new recruits in Hazard, Vinicius Jr. and Jovic to carry their own weight in gold.
Two draws against Real Valladolid and Villarreal were also not pretty viewing, with the latter ending in embarrassment after Bale, who scored both goals, was sent off in the 90th minute. Zidane does not appear to have the same Midas touch as he did when first taking over, which can partly be down to missing his Portuguese star.
And so it begs the question, should Zidane be sacked by Christmas after a poor showing in the Campions League, who will be brought in?
At 13/10 with Betfair, Jose Mourinho is the outright favourite to become Real Madrid’s next manager, closely followed by Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino with odds of 5/2.
Of course having managed Los Blancos in the past and been largely successful with them, Mourinho’s name is always going to be mentioned when there is a managerial vacancy in the Spanish capital. However, given the way Spurs are heading, it might Pochettino who gets the call to come to the Santiago Bernabeu.
Pochettino, behind closed doors, has made it clear that he would like to return to Spain one day to manage with Real being the preference due to his ties to Espanyol. The Argentinean’s contract might not expire until 2023, but if there is a desire from Pochettino’s end to switch North London for Madrid, Perez is likely to pay what Daniel Levy is seeking for compensation.
It has already been clear to see that this Spurs side is winding down. Their overall intensity and performances have been substantially lacking based upon last season’s successes. Key players, such as: Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Christian Eriksen were keen to move on to pastures new in the summer, only to still be with the Lilywhites at the beginning of the season.
While Mourinho is a favourite of Perez’s and can certainly cultivate the dressing room, as well as being out of work and therefore no compensation to be paid, Pochettino will be the clear number one choice to hire. His past speaks for himself and although he might not have won a trophy, reaching the Champions League final has a considerable amount of credit in the bank.
Time will tell to see if Zidane can turn this around and amend his mistakes, but there are two world-class managers waiting in the wings should the Frenchman not be able to do so.