Real Madrid manager has not played down the idea of "luck"
The debate rages on. Is Zinedine Zidane really a good football manager or is he just a lucky one?
For all intents and purposes, it seems that Zidane would prefer you think he was lucky. That way, there is no secret formula and despite being at the biggest club in the world, he is getting away with selling himself and his team as the underdog.
"I do have a lucky star, I always thought that when I was a player and now, I am having a lot of luck to be going through all of this and I am going to enjoy it as much as I can," he told reporters after the game on Saturday night that would make it 35 unbeaten for the Frenchman in charge of Real Madrid.
If you have ever watched Zidane play, you'll know that he was one of the most elegant and technically brilliant footballers of his generation. There was rarely, if ever, any luck involved.
But Zidane doesn't want you to think he is anything other than lucky because, as he sees it, the media will make up their own mind either way on whether it is luck or expertise.
Last May’s Champions League victory and the longest unbeaten run in Real Madrid history will reflect better on him in the long run than any of the current noise around his management style.
The good thing about blaming and crediting positive things that happen on luck are that you're not putting yourself out there. You're putting success down to an unquantifiable thing which leaves journalists shadow boxing. Throwing jabs into the darkness; guessing.
Take a look at Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, a man who is quite clearly functioning at a higher level than most of the population and with the kind of footballing intellect that could see him change the game forever, for maybe the second time, before he reaches his 46th birthday. The problem is, Guardiola wears his passion and his intelligence on his sleeve and it is the same stick they use to beat him with.
Guardiola finds it hard to evade questions about tactics and management because he knows so much. The same with Louis van Gaal, who could not put something down to the inexplicable, because he wanted to educate people.
Zidane, on the other hand, handles the press with the same ease that he used to breeze past defenders that stood in front of him and the goal. You think it’s luck? It’s not my job to change your mind.
Even Zidane’s predecessor, Rafa Benitez, a man who is considered too impersonal and analytical to get hot under the collar, got hot under the collar when he lost the one thing that Zidane so easily gives away: control.
In coaching or learning parlance, handing over the power to an external figure or blaming problems on things other than yourself is undesirable, to say the least. The problem is, when things stop going your way, it can lead to lashing out, which is something that lays in the murkier corners of the Frenchman’s illustrious career.
During the Group stages of the 2000-2001 Champions League, Zidane was sent off in consecutive games against Deportivo La Coruna and Hamburg. The second sending off, a headbutt, resulting in a broken cheekbone and a concussion for Jochen Kientz.
After Zidane had blown off the steam that had clearly been accumulating, he reverted back to the cool, calm customer we consider him to be.
"I should never have been aggressive towards the player - I do not have the right to act like that or to give this image of myself," he told French newspaper L’Equipe.
Another example, the enduring image of Zinedine Zidane from the 2006 World Cup when he head butted Marco Materazzi in the chest before being shown a red card in what was his last ever game as a professional. He was rarely a dirty player but when he lost it, there were no half measures.
Zidane’s strategy of handing over the power might be ideal for now to evade questions over his management style, but it might not be sustainable in a season that is sure to hand him plenty of obstacles to overcome.