Zinedine Zidane never stood out as a future Real Madrid boss - McManaman
Former Real Madrid midfielder Steve McManaman says he is surprised Zinedine Zidane has become the coach of Los Blancos, however he is sure his former teammate commands respect in the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu dressing room.
Zidane replaced Rafa Benitez as Madrid coach in January, to widespread acclaim from local fans and pundits. However his long-term position is already being questioned following last weekend's painful 0-1 derbi defeat to Atletico Madrid.
McManaman played for Madrid from 1999 to 2003, winning two Champions League trophies -- with Zidane arriving in summer 2001 in a world-record transfer deal and then memorably scoring in the 2002 final against Bayer Leverkusen.
The former Liverpool player and England international told Express Sport that the "reserved" Zidane had not been one of the vocal leaders in that Galactico-filled Madrid dressing room.
"I didn't think in the dressing room he'd be a manager," McManaman said. "When he arrived he didn't speak Spanish and he was very quiet. He was an incredible footballer, but he normally spoke only French.
"You'd think someone like Fernando Hierro could be a manager because he was a leader and he was Spanish. In some ways Hierro was our manager. Vicente del Bosque of course was actually our manager but he was quite quiet. Hierro did the team talks and effed and blinded [swore a lot] and shouted 'come on'. Whereas Zizou was quiet, reserved and very professional. He came, trained and went home. He's definitely not a screaming manager, but he's got so much knowledge that he demands respect."
Zidane remained at the Bernabeu after his retirement in 2005 and filled a number of roles at the club including club ambassador, assistant to first team coach Carlo Ancelotti and coach of the club's Castilla B team.
And McManaman says it was inevitable that a former player with such a high profile, who stayed around the club after retirement, would get a go in charge of the first team at some point.
"I think Zizou lived in Madrid and hasn't moved, so you always feel as if there was a connection there," he said. "Once he started getting involved as a coach he was always going to be a manager because he's such a superstar."
Other ex-Madrid players are also currently involved in coaching the club's youth sides, and McManaman believes giving such figures a chance is preferable to reaching randomly for a high profile outside coach.
"Santiago Solari is now a coach of the Juveniles [under-19s] too," he said. "I hope that Madrid have got a plan for managers now as opposed to going around the world and getting this guy before sacking him and getting Carlo or Jose [Mourinho] or Fabio [Capello] or Rafa [Benitez]. Now they've run out of names and I hope they give Zizou a chance and they've got other guys in the system like Solari, Luis Miguel Ramis and Guti."