Had Zidane dreamt of his perfect debut result the night before Saturday’s match, what he witnessed against Deportivo La Coruna was unlikely to be too dissimilar, and five well-taken goals against tricky opposition and a clean sheet are likely to represent exactly the kind of start Zizou and madridistas had hoped for in this new era.
Zidane would have loved to hit the ground running, just to ail any lingering doubts around his appointment. Given his inexperience and affinity with the fans and players alike, he was always promised time to adjust to the magnitude of the role and turn things around.
However, even a man such as Rafa Benitez, with Madrid coursing through his veins, was swiftly – and unceremoniously – fired after just seven months. Zidane needed to make a tangible impact.
The Blancos legend has downplayed his complicity in the thrashing of Depor, insisting it was very much the same team he inherited. And it is, but he is perhaps oblivious to the motivating effect his appointment has had at the club.
That swing in attitude was evidenced on the pitch, and the manner in which Madrid went about their business at the Santiago Bernabeu, playing with a great deal of freedom and attacking intent. Gone were the whistles which dogged Benitez, filled instead by rapturous applause.
Zidane has a few people to thank for Saturday’s victory, firstly hat-trick hero Gareth Bale. While Cristiano Ronaldo was rather wasteful, everything the Welshman touched turned into goals, finding the net with every shot on target.
While the general consensus seems to be that the Madrid players were rather pleased to see the back of Benitez, Bale was sad to see him go.
The build-up to the match allowed many in the media to dredge up and spew old rumours of the Welshman making a sensational and costly return to the Premier League, using his reported unhappiness as the rationale, yet he certainly didn’t seem unhappy under Zizou’s guidance as he ran Depor ragged, before leaving to a standing ovation.
Karim Benzema also seemed to do his bit, getting his side off the mark with a deft flick and crowning the performance with a thumping strike late on.
Zizou’s opponents Deportivo also aided his cause as they proved as profligate as Real were prolific. The away side could so easily have been a potential banana skin for his team, given their form this season, and had they put away at least some of their chances, it may have transpired so. The ease with which Victor Sanchez’s men were able to engineer chances for themselves will be of some concern to Zidane.
And while the Frenchman will have been delighted to win his first match, he will have been even happier with the three points as Los Merengues look to keep up with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid atop La Liga. As dire as Los Blancos’ situation has been made out to be, they are still within reach of their rivals as the season reaches the halfway point.
But as the positivity train continues to pick up speed, it’s important to pause for a moment and remember this is just one match. Madrid will face tougher tests this season, which will may call Zidane’s tactical awareness into question. And while he may be given the rest of 2015-16 to showcase his credentials, he will subject to the same scrutiny as any Madrid Coach whom has preceded him next term.
At least in a job known for being taxing on Coaches, he can trot around the training pitch for the next week with a big grin on his face, hoping for a repeat performance in Madrid’s next assignment.