05/23 05:27 CDT Zidane's dressing room management key to Madrid's success
Zidane's dressing room management key to Madrid's success
By TALES AZZONI
AP Sports Writer
MADRID (AP) --- Despite his successes as coach of Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane
doesn't see himself as a great tactician.
Instead, he prides himself on being a manager of egos.
Zidane, who will be trying to win his third straight Champions League title as
Madrid coach on Saturday against Liverpool, said he does his best work in the
dressing room, more a shrink than a coach.
"I spent 17 or 18 years as a player and worked with many coaches and some
gifted players who had big egos," the former France great said. "I know the
dressing room and I know very well how players think. That is important to me.
"I'm not the best coach, I'm not the best tactically," he said. "But I have
something else. I have desire and passion, and that means a lot more."
It's no small feat by Zidane to successfully manage a squad filled with
high-profile players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Gareth
Bale and Karim Benzema.
Despite many strong characters, there hasn't been any major bickering or public
showing of discontentment even when Zidane had to leave stars such as Benzema
or Bale out of the starting lineup.
In his first major head-coaching job, Zidane said he knows a united dressing
room alone is not going to translate into victories unless there's also a lot
of other work done, but he sees it as a crucial part of a winning team.
"Some can say that it's not a big deal if the dressing room is not working
well, but it is, I'm telling you," the 45-year-old Zidane said. "You may win
here and there, but to win consistently, the dressing room has to be (united)."
After two-and-a-half years at the helm of Madrid, Zidane said his team's
dressing room is exactly how he wants it to be.
"It's very good, it's united. That's crucial," he said. "Talent alone is not
enough. You can say anything you want, but if you don't work, you are not going
to win. And this dressing room has talent and work. With these two things
together, you can achieve a lot."
Ramos, Madrid's captain, was on the same page.
"We've had different teams in the past, with a lot of stars, and maybe there
used to be a divided dressing room," Ramos said. "But now we have great team
spirit. There are no egos, no individual protagonists. When the team wins, we
all win individually."
Zidane showed his good management when rotating starters and bringing in
youngsters who usually don't get a lot of playing time. He also succeeded in
keeping Ronaldo in top form by convincing the Portugal forward to save himself
for the most important matches of the season.
Francisco "Isco" Alarcon said it would be foolish not to listen to a man who
has accomplished so much on the field.
"He is one of the best players in the history of football," Isco said. "You pay
attention to anything he has to say."
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