While Zinedine Zidane may be the best person in charge to oversee the necessary rebuild of the squad, his presence alone will not return the greatness of his previous era in charge. Even in Zidane’s final season in charge, the warnings signs were already there despite the success they enjoyed in Europe at the end. Real Madrid’s results and performances domestically were largely poor throughout the campaign and even much of their Champions League run relied on Cristiano Ronaldo, opposition errors, and bits of luck or refereeing decisions rather than brilliant team performances.
Since Zidane’s second spell commenced, there has been somewhat of a boost with three wins in four matches and maybe a slight improvement in performances. The fact that Real Madrid have virtually nothing to play for in the final weeks may also make it harder to assess their true quality, but their displays over the previous week showed that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done for them to return to the top. Away to Valencia on Wednesday, they were completely outplayed and deservedly beaten 2-1 in the end. Even in the two home victories, the performance was not convincing, as Real Madrid fell behind in both matches and needed late goals from Karim Benzema to get the win on both occasions.
One area where Zidane’s return has underwhelmed slightly is its impact on some of the team’s key players who had underperformed this season. Karim Benzema has evidently been given a boost by his compatriot’s return, but the likes of Toni Kroos and Marcelo have still been disappointing even with the personnel change in the dugout. Against Eibar on Saturday, Sergio Reguilon even returned as the starting left back after Marcelo’s performance against Valencia. It was perhaps unfair to expect an instant turnaround from these players just because Zidane is back, but it still underscored that we are not going to see the Toni Kroos and Marcelo of old just because their old manager is back.
In rebuilding the team for next season, one crucial way Zidane’s reappointment may help though is in convincing players to stay or join the club. Varane appeared heading towards the exit until Zidane’s return last month, while the likes of Paul Pogba, Eden Hazard, and even Kylian Mbappe all seem closer to joining Real Madrid now that the Frenchman is back as Real Madrid manager.