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Zidane – ‘Ronaldo is the best’
New Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane may be inexperienced when it comes to managing at the very highest level but his comments about Cristiano Ronaldo prove he’s as politically astute off the field as he was a magician on it. In the run up to Valentine’s Day the new boss was unequivocal in declaring his feelings about Ronaldo, taking as his cue a question by a Mexican newspaper the question as to whether Lionel Messi was the greatest player in the world. “Cristiano Ronaldo is the best,” said Zidane without hesitation – in marked contrast to his predecessor at the Bernabeu, Rafa Benítez.
‘MESSI IS THE RIVAL’
Zidane continued: “People can say what they like about Cristiano Ronaldo, but in his heart he’s a good person. Messi is the rival and that rivalry is great for the footballing spectacle, it’s what the fans want to see.” Benítez was asked the same question during Real Madrid‘s pre-season tour of Australia last summer, but rather than tackling the subject head-on like Zidane and pampering the ego of the star man with a full and indisputable declaration of his talent, Rafa prevaricated. “To say that he is one of the best in the world I believe is sufficient,” said Benítez in reply to the question.
‘THE FATHER OR THE MOTHER?’
And to make things worse, Rafa tried then to contextualise and explain his answer but seemed only to dig a deeper hole for himself by adding: “It is like asking my daughter if she prefers my wife or me. The father or the mother? It’s not easy.” How far Benítez’s statement then led to his eventual sacking just seven months after taking over at the Bernabeu is a matter of conjecture but it appears to be a lesson learned by his successor who clearly knows that to get the best out of Real, you have to get the best out of Ronaldo. And one way to do that, as everyone knows, is to call him the best in the world.
Zidane has impressed since taking over with his Real side banging in goals and performing more in the attacking style demanded by the home fans and relied on by punters and online football tipsters. Even though he was promoted from managing Real’s second team the Castilla, Zidane admitted: “I never thought that I’d be a manager. When your playing career ends all you want to do is spend time with your family. I always liked being on the pitch, it’s what I knew how to do. Everything else was foreign to me.” Asked about the difficulties encountered by previous managers running the world’s biggest club and the difficulties faced, Zidane said “Now it’s me who deals with all the stress. It’s always the manager’s fault if the team lose. But you have to accept that responsibility, with all the good and bad that comes with it. “The main thing is getting my message across to the players. I only give them two or three instructions because they’re extremely professional. I have a sensational group of players, I’m delighted with the work they’re doing.”
By: Joe Cahal