Real Madrid fans have been blessed to watch their team managed by three of the finest coaches of the era over the past 10 years. Jose Mourinho had Los Blancos playing high-flying, counterattacking football before it all imploded, Carlo Ancelotti brought the Champions League back to the Spanish capital, and Zinedine Zidane, a former apprentice of Ancelotti and Mourinho, made it three Champions Leagues in a row before winning the title at a dire time in his second stint as manager.
And now that Don Carlo is back in the manager’s seat for his own second stint, Madridistas are full of praise for the Italian coach. Real Madrid have enjoyed an unbeaten start to the season, with previously maligned players like Gareth Bale and Isco flashing positive form. With goal-fests against Levante and Deportivo Alaves, Real are showing more attacking intent than they were in the last couple of seasons.
For some reason, this has made a few fickle fans feel as if they have the license to use Ancelotti’s attacking football to take jibes at Zinedine Zidane. They will take screenshots or post a clip or two from a recent match, and they will insinuate that Zizou-coached sides never played fine attacking football or that Zidane was an incompetent manager.
Essentially, they regurgitate the same talking points the mainstream football media would bring up, only to be embarrassed at one point last season when Real Madrid picked apart an overconfident Liverpool.
Carlo Ancelotti, Zinedine Zidane have faced unique challenges as Real Madrid managers in recent seasons
It is entirely possible to appreciate both Ancelotti and Zidane. They are different managers who are respected equally. They have different strengths. They prioritize different things as part of their football philosophies. And yet both have been highly effective managers at the most pressurized club in the world.
Ancelotti came into the 2021-2022 season as Zidane’s replacement, knowing he would have a difficult task ahead of him with Kylian Mbappe unlikely and a host of either inexperienced or experienced players in need of a confidence boost.
So far, Ancelotti has provided that boost to the likes of Bale and Vinicius Junior, for example. The attacking fluidity has come at the cost of midfield solidity and defensive structure, but Ancelotti is also dealing with a new-look defense and some major injuries in midfield.
Meanwhile, Zidane had complications of his own. He had to deal with the worst of the pandemic, including a ridiculous amount of injuries and COVID-19-related absences. Furthermore, he had to deal with players who were even less experienced than when Ancelotti took over, as well as some players who were even less motivated, largely since they did not meet the expectations of what Zidane and Real Madrid needed at the time for how they needed to play in order to grind out results.
It is so important for fans to understand the varying circumstances managers find themselves in, as well as all the smaller variables that impact the product they are able to put onto the field. Ancelotti and Zidane, clearly, are competent individuals who love Real Madrid and have accomplished a great deal in their careers. To pit one against the other is blasphemous for a Madridista, as both need to be spoken of with the utmost reverence.
Want your voice heard? Join the The Real Champs team!
Write for us!
So as the 2021-2022 season continues, remember to praise Ancelotti and appreciate the gifts he brings, but do not let that become a way of exaggerating any shortcomings of Zidane or his teams in the past couple of seasons. Because there are so many fond memories of Zizou. He truly worked miracles as a three-peat Champions League winner and a man who had Real one late Luis Suarez goal away from the unlikeliest of back-to-back league titles during the worst of the pandemic.