- ‘I feel that the club no longer gives me the trust I need’. Zidane takes aim at Pérez and says he is not finished as a coach
According to an extraordinary open letter from the Frenchman to supporters, Zinedine Zidane left Real Madrid because the club and its president, Florentino Pérez, systematically undermined him.
In the letter, which was published four days after his resignation was made official, Zidane stated that he intends to continue coaching and explains his reasons for leaving. He paints a damning portrait of the club, describing a culture in which coaches are distrusted and subjected to strategic leaks that weaken their position.
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“I am not abandoning ship and I am not tired of coaching,” Zidane wrote. “I am going because I feel that the club no longer gives me the trust I need and doesn’t offer me the support needed to build something in the mid and long term. Over the last few months, I would have liked my relationship with the Real Madrid club and the president to have been a bit different to that of other managers.”
This is the 3rd time Zidane has left Real Madrid, once as a player and twice as a manager, and each time he has done so on his own terms, making the decision unilaterally. There will be no turning back this time. Not after such a damaging public statement, in which he not only blamed the president for failing to protect him, but also expressed his belief that reports of his impending dismissal in the autumn and winter came from within, destabilizing the team. He also defended his players from criticism, including from within, amid allegations that he was too close to them – particularly the old guard.
When Zidane said at a press conference in February, “tell me to my face that you want to get rid of me, not behind my back,” he was addressing not only the media but also the club that employed them. The mention of “other managers” underscored the fact that this isn’t just about him. Vicente del Bosque, Carlo Ancelotti, Carlos Queiroz, and many other former Real Madrid managers have expressed similar sentiments.
They could have even been expressed by Zidane himself after his first spell, which ended four days after winning the Champions League for the third time in a row. He was aware of what he would be returning to in March 2019 and is not blameless, despite writing that this departure was not the same. “The last time I left, because I thought the team needed a new direction; this time is different,” he said.
“I know football and I know the demands of a club like Real Madrid, I know that when you don’t win you have to go. But something important has been forgotten here: everything I have built day to day, what I have contributed building the relationship with the players [and] the 150 people who work around the team. I am a born winner and I was here to conquer trophies but beyond that there are human beings, feelings, life, and I have the impression these things have not been appreciated, that it hasn’t been understood that a great club is also sustained by those relationships. I fact, I have even been criticized for that.”
“I want everything we did together to be respected,” Zidane added. “I am not asking for privileges, of course not, but a bit of memory.”
He also wrote: “These days a coach lasts two years. To last longer than that, human relationships are essential, more important than money, fame, everything. You have to look after those. That is why it hurt me so much when I read in the press after a defeat that they were going to sack me if I didn’t win the next game. It hurt me and it hurt my whole team because those messages, deliberately leaked to the media, created negative interference with the squad, created doubts and misunderstanding.
“Thankfully, I have marvellous lads who supported me to the death. When things got ugly, they saved me with great victories. Because they believed in me and they knew I believed in them. Of course, I am not the best coach in the world but I am capable of giving the strength and trust that everyone needs in their work, whether that’s a player, a member of the coaching staff, or any employee. I know perfectly well what the team needs.”
Here the ending “unlike Pérez” went without saying. Zidane had said enough.