Zidane extends Real Madrid contract, claims it ‘means nothing’
Zidane extends Real Madrid contract, claims it ‘means nothing’
The Frenchman enjoyed a brilliant start to his stint as boss at the Bernabeu winning back-to-back Champions League titles, the La Liga crown and consecutive Club World Cups.
Bit time moves fast in football and over the past six months the all-time great player has suddenly found the coaching game not as easy as he did in the first 18 months of his time at Real.
The Spanish giants went into the winter break on the back of a harrowing 3-0 defeat to arch-rivals Barcelona and letting slip a lead at Celta Vigo and ending up drawing 2-2 last weekend. That has seen them slump to a mammoth, some in Madrid would say embarrassing, 16-point gap behind Barca in the La Liga table, and for the first time the knives are out for Zidane.
All too aware of this the 45-year-old was seemingly indifferent when announcing his new deal.
“It’s signed,” he said.
“I’m enjoying what I do every day, because that’s the way it is. I can’t imagine myself as a coach in two, three years, because things are not like that.
“I know how it goes, nothing more, even with this contract it does not change anything.
“I go match by match, year by year, like last year. I cannot look two or three years ahead because having the contract does not mean anything.
“We’re always going to get criticism but we’re going to try to change this situation,” he said.
On Wednesday, as if to emphasize results are not going the way of the glamor club, Real drew 2-2 at home to second division Numancia the the second-leg of their Copa del Ray quarterfinal clash — they won the first-leg 3-0. It may have been a second string side Zidane put out but once again, as is seemingly becoming a habit, results are not going the way he wants and the expectant club hierarchy expect.
“It was a difficult match. A draw is not the best result, but we’ll continue to do our job in a positive way and at some point we’ll see the results of this hard work,” the man known as “Zizou” said.
Real face Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 of the Champions League and an early exit for the current title-holders would only serve to increase the pressure on Zidane with the side’s La Liga title tilt already all but over.
Arab News casts its eye over possible replacements for Zidane should be sacked…
MAURICIO POCHETTINO: The Argentine has turned Tottenham around from being perennial no-hopers to one of the most exciting teams in Europe. Still without silverware but they are challenging the top table both at home and in the Champions League. Pochettino has played in Spain for Espanyol and Real are known admirers of the 45-year-old, as are most top club side in Europe.
JOACHIM LOW: The 57-year-old led Germany to World Cup glory in Brazil four years ago and is widely regarded as one of the planet’s top coaches. The Madrid men have long had their eye on Low but with the this year’s showpiece barely six months away they would be very unlikely to get their man in before August if they do decide to part company with Zidane.
CRISTIANO RONALDO: We admit this is a bit far-fetched but lets face it, confidence would not be a problem in the Portuguese making the leap from playmaker to player-coach. It would also mean he would never be substituted and demand the ball at every opportunity knowing his teammates would have to pass to him. Perhaps the opportunity has come a bit too early for the big ego…
Liverpool's Andrew Robertson ready for Roma Champions League test
- Young Scottish star was very impressive during Liverpool's 5-1 aggregate destruction of Man City in last-eight clash.
- Robertson refuses to take Roma lightly after their shock victory over Barcelona in the last round.
LIVERPOOL: With a desire stoked in the stands of Parkhead, Andrew Robertson is now fired up to fulfil a childhood dream.
While following the fortunes of Celtic, the defender’s first Champions League final memory was when Zinedine Zidane volleyed Real Madrid to success in 2002 as the contest was staged in Robertson’s home city of Glasgow. He was just eight years old.
While Robertson was deemed too small to play for his boyhood idols, released at 15 with a future uncertain, he has grown to prove his worth on Europe’s biggest club stage with Liverpool.
Now, with a semifinal encounter against AS Roma after beating Premier League champions Manchester City in the last eight, he wants to emulate those Reds heroes who lifted the trophy five times before.
“I was a big Celtic fan growing up and my heroes were Henrik Larsson and Co,” Robertson told Arab News ahead of tonight’s first-leg clash at Anfield.
“But these heroes who have won the European Cup and Champions League for Liverpool, you have to look up to them — and we want to emulate them and hopefully get a winner’s medal too.
“The club’s won it five times and the history of the club has always been this, the Champions League, where the fans create a special atmosphere and the club challenges for the trophy. It would be unbelievable to be a part of that history.
“This is the highlight for me so far and an incredible feeling, but it just makes you hungry for more. I don’t want it to end.
“As a kid, you sit back and watch how great it would be to play in this competition, let alone in the final.
“I always used to go to Celtic and we didn’t progress very far in the Champions League, but the occasions at Parkhead were always unbelievable.
“The fans at Celtic are incredible, world renowned, but Anfield was unbelievable against Man City and we have another chance for them to create that same atmosphere and hopefully we can put in another great performance.” Having beaten Pep Guardiola’s City so convincingly, 5-1 over two gripping games, Liverpool will start favorites against Roma.
That is despite the Italians upsetting Barcelona in the previous round with an epic 3-0 win in the second leg after a 4-1 loss at the Nou Camp.
But Robertson will take nothing for granted against a Roma side who last reached the final in 1984 where they were beaten by Liverpool in a penalty shootout at their Stadio Olimpico home.
“Barca are an unbelievable team,” added the Scotland left-back, 24. “But let’s not kid ourselves. For Roma to score three goals against Barcelona, that’s special.
“They’ve been unbelievable this season too in the Champions League and deserve to be in the semifinals. It will definitely not be an easy game.
“But once you get to the semis, the fear of who you are playing has gone because you know how good the teams are.
“It’s like you look forward to the possibility of playing in the final, that’s what drives you forward. We will have fire in our bellies because we are so close to getting there.”
Jurgen Klopp’s men will no doubt be looking to Mohamed Salah to conjure more magic against the club he left in the summer for £36.9 million ($51.5 million). But Robertson insisted Liverpool are no one-man team and the Egyptian, crowned PFA Player of the Year on Sunday night after scoring 41 goals in an unforgettable campaign, epitomizes a team united and ambitious in their quest for glory. “He’s just unbelievable,” said Robertson of the frontman.
“In the first half (of the second leg) against Man City we struggled to get him in the game and he wasn’t quite at it. But the second half he was different class and pops up with a goal to help us win it. That’s what he does.
“His goals have been incredible and long may that continue. He’s a great guy, so humble, and for someone who has done so much this season he’s so down to Earth.
“That’s credit to our squad because we don’t let anyone get ahead of themselves.
“Mo is no different, he’s a lovely person and stands for what we are as a team.”
HEART OF GOLD
Five years ago Andrew Robertson was playing in the fourth tier of Scottish football with Queen’s Park and earning extra money by selling concert tickets in the corporate offices at Hampden Park.
Last summer he suffered relegation from the Premier League with Hull City before Liverpool signed him for £10 million ($13.9 million).
In a career fraught with setbacks and hardships, he has been grateful, supporting foodbanks that help those in need.
“It’s all about giving something back to the less fortunate,” said Robertson.
“I’m in a fortunate position where I do a job I love and get paid well and it’s nice to give something back, especially in my hometown. I’ll always do that.
“It’s been a great journey for me in my career, and I’ve enjoyed every minute. But I don’t forget where I came from. Maybe it is rare, but a lot more people are doing it now and I hope even more will.”