One of the reasons why Rafa Benitez was fired was his inability to get along with the alpha dog in the dressing room Cristiano Ronaldo. Rafa has a history of falling out with important players at his previous clubs. From Xabi Alonso to John Terry, via Marco Materazzi. And he did the same at Real Madrid.
One of the first things he did was upset Cristiano Ronaldo by not stroking the Portuguese star’s ego and saying he was the best player in the world. In fact, in the beginning, Rafa even refused to say he was the best player at Real Madrid.
An unhappy Cristiano means an unhappy dressing room so it was interesting to see that both Marca and Sport led their respective back pages on Wednesday with an interview by former Real Madrid manager Vanderlei Luxemburgo, who is currently coaching Chinese side Tianjin Songjiang.
Luxemburgo answered questions about Real Madrid’s mid-season change of manager and the Brazilian believes that Zidane’s success or failure in his first top-flight managerial position hinges not on his inexperience, but on the behaviour of his players; specifically that of Cristiano Ronaldo.
“Zidane was a leader in the dressing room when he was a player and Cristiano should realize that now there is a person with leadership and understanding of the game in charge”, warned Luxemburgo,
“The changing room belongs to the players only up to a certain point, beyond that it is the manager who’s in control. Cristiano has to understand that he isn’t the manager, Zidane is”, opined the Brazilian, who also used Messi as an example: “Messi is just a player. Messi is a star, but he’s still just a player, that’s his limit”.
It will be fascinating to see how Zidane manages the huge ego’s in the Madrid dressing room, while getting to results he needs in order to keep his job.