Debunking the 5 biggest myths about Zinedine Zidane

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Zinedine Zidane is one of the best players in the history of football, and he also grew to be a highly successful manager in a short span of time. Despite all his achievements, he is someone who loves to maintain a low profile and is never really amongst the most talked-about names, as a manager.

But in recent times, there have been some discussions about Zidane the manager, with the reason behind this sudden discussion being the possible sacking of Manchester United’s manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, after the 0-5 loss to Liverpool at home. Various outlets report that Zidane and Antonio Conte are seen by United’s board as two options to replace the Norwegian.

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With Zidane’s name reported by the media, it didn’t take a lot of time for the fans and several pundits to discuss Zidane’s merit as a manager.

Those discussions involved a lot of ignorant takes on the Frenchman, and a lot of myths about Zidane were circulated across the media. Let us debunk those myths about Zidane and how he has actually been an underrated manager all this time.

Real Madrid Zinedine Zidane (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images)

1. Zidane is tactically naive

The first and biggest myth about Zidane is that “he is tactically inept”, and that he is not one of the best tacticians out there. When the people who claim the tactical weakness of Zidane’s abilities are countered with a list of the Frenchman’s achievements, with emphasis laid on the Champions League three-peat, we’re often replied with a standard phrase, that is “man-management”.

Most of Zidane’s success has been attributed to his “man-management” skills and in some cases, his luck. Tactics and man-management are the two most important skills a top-flight manager must possess, but segregating managers into tacticians and man-managers is very wrong, and it often undermines the brilliance of the manager in another aspect. The same has happened in Zidane’s case.

Zidane isn’t someone who has a managerial philosophy named after him and he isn’t someone who tries to preach his philosophy. But this doesn’t mean he’s tactically inept, and it isn’t necessary that a manager needs to have their own philosophy to be considered a genius. And he also has something special in him, which is his tactical flexibility, which made him a world-class manager, particularly in his second stint.

He used a 4-3-3 or a 4-4-2 diamond for most of his managerial career, but he had always ensured that his players are ready to adapt to any setup and are able to adjust to the requirements of his system. He was able to deploy three different formations for three consecutive games in a space of seven days and was able to outclass his opponents almost every time. And his substitutions in big games have always proven to be masterstrokes.

The best example to support this point is the 3-1 win vs Paris Saint-Germain in the Round of 16 of the 2018 Champions League, in which he tweaked the formation from a 4-4-2 diamond to a 4-4-2 flat with his substitutions in the second half, which helped the team win the game as two late goals did the job.

He has also proven himself to bring the best out of his team in big games and has been able to outsmart the best in the business. Some of his victims include Jurgen Klopp, Diego Simeone, our current manager Carlo Ancelotti, Jupp Heynckes, Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte, Massimiliano Allegri and many more big names. Some of these names include the best of tacticians, who found it difficult to best the Frenchman’s setup, which speaks loads about Zidane’s brilliance as a manager, and particularly as a tactician.

Even after everything, Zidane remains an underrated manager. Maybe Zidane’s character can be blamed for this. He has never been one of the flashy kind of people who talk a lot and are keen to show off their abilities before the media. Zidane has always been a person who knew what he was doing and believed in what he was doing and never sought anyone’s approval. He never wanted to be in the limelight, and only valued what was important for the club.

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