Can Zinedine Zidane give Manchester United a dramatic push?

Abhijit Sen Gupta
Abhijit Sen Gupta

Zinedane Zidane’s planning and Cristiano Ronaldo’s implementation!

That would be a dream scenario for any football lover. Well such a script may soon be played out on the football fields of England if Manchester United’s moves to rope in Zinedine Zidane as the team’s manager come to a fruitful end.

According to reports, the famous English club is in talks with the former captain of France with the objective of handing him the key role. This post has been held in the past by legends such as Sir Matt Busby, Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Maurinho. Right now the man in charge is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer of Norway. But the Norwegian’s role has come under pressure due to a string of low key performances. Although the management of Manchester United has remained tight-lipped about it, news has leaked out that Solskjaer may be asked to leave.

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Fans and football pundits are not satisfied at the way things have gone. Paul Scholes, the famous midfielder of yesteryears, has been among those who are critical of the way Solskjaer has modelled the team’s approach.  To top it all, he has not been able to forge an unbeatable combination within his team after the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo.

So if Solskjaer goes, and the post falls vacant, then Zidane’s candidacy looks the strongest. He has the backing of none other than Cristiano Ronaldo. If negotiations work out then Zidane will become the first person from a non-European heritage, and the first Muslim, to take up the top job of the prestigious English club.

Zidane was born in La Castellane in Marseille, France. But his parents, Smaïl and Malika, emigrated to Paris from the village of Aguemoune in the Berber-speaking region of  Kabylie in Algeria. “I have an affinity with the Arabic world. I have it in my blood, via my parents. I’m very proud of being French, but also very proud of having these roots and this diversity,” Zidane had said in an interview to Esquire magazine several years ago.

But it is learnt that other clubs in Europe are also eyeing the services of Zidane. Paris St. Germain and Newcastle United are reported to have approached him too. But Manchester United has an ace up its sleeve and that is Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese star recommended Zidane to the board of the Red Devils (as the Manchester club is known) and Zidane too will be looking forward to working with the world’s topmost striker.

Many players and fans too feel that the star studded line up of Manchester United needs a high profile leader to keep things under control. Sometimes famous names of football are temperamental and have to be handled cleverly by a man of equal stature. So Zidane is the right man for the job. As manager of Real Madrid earlier, Zidane had guided the world’s top players including Ronaldo.

Brazil’s star defender Dani Alves has urged Zidane to go to the Old Trafford ground as manager of Manchester United.  According to Alves, it will provide Zidane an ideal opportunity to prove that he is as great a manager as he was a player. If he succeeds in the cut throat atmosphere of the EPL, no one can cast any doubts on Zidane’s managerial ability. The Brazilian says that Zidane thrives under pressure and can bring out the “devilish” side of the Red Devils.

Critics have claimed that Zidane enjoyed huge amounts of luck as manager. But at the same time no one could point out a flaw in Zidane’s tactical acumen and his flexibility of approach characterized by a flair for attacking football.

So if Zidane and Manchester United come together, it will be a welcome development for both the club and the man who is keen to make fans forget about that rash head butt of Marco Materazzi. That sudden loss of self control under extreme provocation resulted in a red card for Zidane and a subsequent loss for France in the 2006 World Cup. It is time for Zidane to erase those memories from the minds of his fans and create new impressions which will establish him as not just a legendary player but also one of the game’s best managers.

Abhijit Sen Gupta is a seasoned journalist who writes on Sports and various other subjects.

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