Just over a month ago, Zinedine Zidane became the latest Real Madrid Coach by replacing Rafa Benitez in the hot-seat. The legendary Frenchman made the big jump to senior football management by taking over the biggest club of them all, which certainly looked to be a big gamble from all parties considered.
It didn't seem to faze Zidane, however, as he started with two comfortable home wins over Deportivo La Coruna and Sporting Gijon, scoring 10 goals in the process. This was followed by a disappointing draw at struggling Real Betis, another crushing 6-0 win over Espanyol, and a tough, but ultimately invaluable, narrow triumph at Granada.
Eleven points from five games seems like a good enough start as it's kept Madrid just about in the race for the title, but with Barcelona not looking likely to let up soon in the middle of a historic unbeaten run, it’s unlikely that Los Blancos will be able to wrestle the title away from them. Nonetheless, it will not be a failure down to Zidane, but more so Benitez and the poor squad planning from the club in the summer, which has led Zizou to take over in a less-than-ideal situation.
Zidane has brought a breath of fresh air with his positive, attacking approach. It has allowed the likes of James Rodriguez and Isco regain their confidence under his tutelage, and the rise in the intensity of the team has also brought about improvements on the defensive end. There's still plenty of work to be done here, but having made this team look at least recognisable to the one that played scintillating football at times under Carlo Ancelotti in previous seasons in just over a month, it's not a bad start.
For Zidane though, the true measure of his abilities as a Coach are yet to come. While the club will hope that he can maintain a respectable showing in the League and try to bring La Undecima, the 11th European cup, at the end of May, it perhaps isn't the priority. With a transfer ban currently suspended, which will allow Real to make signings in the summer, it will be a crucial test for Zizou and the management to make important decisions and add some freshness to the squad to ensure a stronger and competitive Real Madrid for the next few years to come.
If there's one thing that we can be sure of, judging from this season's performances, Florentino Perez will certainly give Zidane the financial backing to bring in the players of his choosing and try to make Real Madrid great again. Perez respected Zidane greatly as a player and called him his best signing ever as President many times, but they'll both know there are big shoes to fill if Zidane is going to be anywhere near the success that he was on the pitch in the most difficult dugout in world football.