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…
Mickey Arthur calls on Pakistan to prove India defeat was one-off
- Pakistan coach wants improved performance when side next face big rivals India on Sunday in the UAE.
- Asia Cup now down to Super Four stage.
LONDON: Mickey Arthur is confident Pakistan can bounce back from their big defeat against India in Dubai on Wednesday.
Arthur’s side lost by eight wickets to their arch-rivals in the final clash of the group stage at the Asia Cup, taking place in the UAE.
It came less than 24 hours after India struggled to beat Hong Kong, but Rohit Sharma’s side hit the disappointment of that performance for six to easily beat Pakistan.
Despite the defeat Arthur is sure his side can turn things around in the Super Four stage and go all the way and win the tournament.
“Whenever we go head-to-head with India, I am comfortable that we’ve got a dressing room of players who can stand up to it,” the Pakistan coach said.
“I am comfortable we’ve got a dressing room of players who, on any given day, can win. So I still think it’s a 50-50. Lucky this game was inconsequential in the tournament.”
Pace spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar (three for 15) and part time off-spinner Kedar Jadhav (three for 23) sent Pakistan, who won the toss and batted, collapsing to just 162 all out in 43.1 overs at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Skipper Sharma then struck three sixes and six boundaries in his 39-ball 52 while fellow opener Shikhar Dhawan hit a six and six fours in his 54-ball 46 as India romped home in just 29 overs.
Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik both finished on 31 not out as India exacted some revenge for their humbling 180-run defeat against their arch-rivals in the final of the Champions Trophy in London last year — the most recent match between the teams until Wednesday.
Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur was not a happy man after watching his Pakistan side soundly beaten by India in Dubai.
Both Pakistan and India had already qualified for the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup and will meet again in Dubai on Sunday. When they do Arthur will doubtless be looking for a response and for his side to stick to the set plans.
“On a wicket like that you need to strike really if you’re going to defend it. We didn’t strike early enough,” Arthur said.
“We went away from our plans too quickly. We said that our batters batted outside our roles and that wasn’t acceptable. With our bowling, we went outside our plans far too quickly. We wanted to bowl hard lengths, hit the top of off stump.
“It was tough to score then. We did that in the first six, and then (Usman Khan) Shinwari decided to come around the wicket and bowl a bouncer with fine leg up. And from there it just tumbled.
“We’re going to sit down and talk about that. It’s not good enough. We went outside our plans.
“That’s not acceptable. I think there was a bit of panic when they didn’t strike early.”
Also of concern to the Pakistan coach is the form of Mohammad Amir. The side’s main bowler has looked out of form recently and has struggled for wickets since last year’s Champions Trophy win.
“I’d be lying if I sat here and said there wasn’t (any concern about Amir),” Arthur said.
“I had a really good, long hard chat with him last night and I thought he came out and bowled really well. He hit the crease really hard. He ran in well. He’s been decelerating to the crease, but he didn’t do that today.
“He seemed more fluent, there was a little bit more pace there. And I was comfortable (with what he did), he bowled well. There is pressure on him, of course there is.”
There was much hype surrounding the clash, as there always is with any India vs. Pakistan match, but once Pakistan’s unpredictable batting crumbled, Wednesday’s showdown turned into a damp squib for a near-capacity crowd in the UAE. They will all hope that Sunday’s rerun will dish up more drama and entertainment.