Zinedine Zidane’s record as Real Madrid manager speaks for itself. Across two spells with the club, he has amassed two La Liga titles, three Champions League crowns and two UEFA Super Cups with a couple of FIFA Club World Cups thrown in for good measure.
But despite cementing his status as a legendary Los Blancos player and manager to rival the late great Johan Cruyff at bitter rivals Barcelona, Zizou is under pressure. Inconsistent form in La Liga, defeat to Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Super Cup and a shock early exit from the Copa del Rey has left many questioning the Frenchman's future at the club.
Still, whoever does eventually replace Zidane as Real Madrid manager will have a monumental act to follow and, as these five sorry appointments attest, things can go wrong pretty quickly in the pressure cooker of the world’s biggest club.
Arsenio Iglesias (January 1996 to June 1996)
Iglesias arrived at the Bernabeu having worked wonders at Deportivo La Coruna, where he guided the unfancied Galicians to three consecutive top-three finishes in La Liga before riding off into the sunset with retirement in the summer of 1995. Similar miracles were expected at Real Madrid, who convinced Iglesias to return to coaching with the club in crisis.
Despite reaching the Champions League quarter-finals, manager Jorge Valdano had been sacked with the reigning champions languishing down in sixth in La Liga. While things didn’t get worse under Iglesias, they certainly didn’t improve; Juventus knocked Real out of the European Cup soon after while Los Blancos finished the season trophyless down in sixth, missing out on European football for the first time since 1977. Iglesias resumed his retirement soon after.
Juan Ramón López Caro (December 2005 to June 2006)
Lopez Caro’s appointment as Real Madrid boss raised plenty of eyebrows given he had never managed in La Liga before and had spent the previous four years in charge of Real’s B team. However, when the Madrid hierarchy decided to do away with predecessor Vanderlei Luxemburgo, the Spaniard was seen as the ideal fit to manage the Galacticos’ galaxy of stars.
Unfortunately, it proved anything but ideal. Dumped out of the Champions League by Arsenal, Real lost 6-1 to Mallorca in the Copa Del Rey and finished 12 points off Barcelona in La Liga. Lopez left that summer a broken man, telling reporters: “I ask for forgiveness from the Real fans who had confidence in me, because professionally I was not able to rise to the occasion."
Julen Lopetegui (July 2018 to October 2018)
Lopetegui courted controversy after he was unveiled as Zidane successor at Real Madrid while still manager of Spain who were due to travel out to Russia for the 2018 World Cup. Sacked as Spain boss days after the announcement, Lopetegui’s misery was compounded when Real made a rotten start under his tutelage, losing 4-2 to local rivals Atletico Madrid.
Inconsistent results on the pitch and intense media scrutiny off it finally reached a crescendo with a humiliating 5-1 loss to Barcelona in El Clasico. Despite Lopetegui insisting he had the “strength” to continue, the Real Madrid board felt otherwise and a harrowing 12 months for the Spaniard was complete when he was sacked and replaced by youth coach Santiago Solari drafted in in his place.
José Antonio Camacho (May 2004 to September 2004)
Camacho had already endured one disastrous stint at the helm of Real Madrid by the time he was appointed manager for a second time in 2004. Back in 1998, he lasted just 23 days before exiting in a huff following a row with club president Lorenzo Sanz. The second time around was slightly different.
Real actually won their first two games under Camacho – 1-0 wins over lowly Numancia and Mallorca in La Liga - before the wheels came off in spectacular style with a humiliating 3-0 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League. David Beckham and Raul were controversially dropped for the next game but it failed to have the desired impact with Real losing 1-0 to Espanyol.
That prompted Roberto Carlos to criticise Camacho's hardline approach warning: "When you thump a fist on the desk you either break the desk or you break your hand, nothing else happens." Camacho resigned soon after, hinting that Real’s stars had effectively downed tools.
Mariano García Remón (September 2004 to December 2004)
Remón had the look of a rabbit caught in the headlights from the moment he was drafted in to replace Camacho as Real Madrid coach. A close friend and former teammate of Camacho, Remón was originally hired as his assistant manager and witnessed, first-hand, the difficulties he endured in trying to motivate the Galacticos.
Claiming he only took the top job at the request of Camacho, Remón went on to set the record for the shortest tenure of any Real Madrid manager ever , lasting just 101 days largely forgettable days in the job. He was out by Christmas with Real 13 points off Barca in La Liga and struggling in the Champions League.
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