As manager of Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane had a great ability to make sure it was never the main event. Even when he was the decisive character, there were others who made the headlines while making history. He managed to disappear like a gust of wind once he decided that his time at Real Madrid was over. And the club has had the mission of replacing its former coach with someone as close to French in terms of temperament as possible.
Everything was very sad in the end, even if Julen Lopetegui and Florentino Pérez did not apologize for their speeches during the presentation of the first one as Zidane's replacement on Thursday night. The decision has been made. Nothing can be given or returned and all that remains is for each side to make the best of an unfortunate situation. There will be badysis and articles, speculations and accusations, but in the end, Lopetegui might feel like the most unfortunate man in the world after everything that happened.
And Real Madrid could be left wondering if Lopetegui is sensible, Manager of great will they needed after the resignation of Zidane.
It has become a cliché for a new club manager to say "I could not say no" when his new boss called. Mauricio Pochettino of Tottenham, however, reminded us that, in fact, he can reject even the biggest club in world football. The first option of Real Madrid had just signed a new contract in London when Zidane came out the door of the Bernabéu and entered the sunset. Pochettino's word was given to Daniel Levy and that surpbaded everything.
But the difference between Lopetegui and Pochettino is that the Argentine believes in the process of what he is doing and, given what we have seen over the past few days, it seems that Lopetegui does not. I had to answer the call and say yes, because there is the underlying feeling that this call would not come back.
Pochettino believes that his management skills will offer him the opportunities he deserves in the future; Lopetegui is not very sure after a previously failed spell at Porto when he could not win a trophy in a year and a half before his contract was unilaterally rescinded.
Recently, at ESPN FC, while Real Madrid was looking for a coach, a list of almost 20 managers linked to the paper came together. And Lopetegui was not in that. Surely, when he got the call, he knew he was not among the top five candidates. Surely, he knew that they were getting a little desperate and, without a doubt, he could join those feelings to ask the club to wait if they really wanted to, given the task that was about to be undertaken in Russia.
In an ideal world, Lopetegui would have given Real a preliminary "yes" before baduring them that there would be time to speak after the World Cup, or even during it. He could have let his superiors know at that point about the contact and all this could have been avoided. Instead, Real Madrid said he jumps, Lopetegui asked how high and then the tatami he had planned to land was pulled out from under him on his way back.
It is also unfortunate that Lopetegui has come up with something like this in previous regimes. Instead, he faced a new president in Luis Rubiales, who ran for the role with the message that he would clean up the Spanish soccer federation, it would be tough with the bigger clubs along with guarantees that Spanish football was the most important of football in Spain and not in singular institutions.
And now, Real Madrid has a manager who will possibly be booed while traveling to away games during his time at the club … to start anyway. A job that does not need additional attention has the telescopes of journalists and amateurs trained directly in it.
In the end, there were four people who acted in their own interest, who have a right to do, starting with Zidane, who left his paper without much concern about his replacement. Pérez, who had lost some control over the situation, approached the managers in search of the right man to take the job with little or no care for the collateral damage that could be incurred. Lopetegui decided to go beyond his incredible form with Spain to safeguard his future by accepting the work of Real Madrid. Rubiales was willing to make a really difficult decision in the present to ensure that his future was easier.
But Lopetegui, who initially seemed the winner, is the one who has more to prove now. The 51-year-old admitted that the day he was fired by Spain was the hardest day of his life, but if he does not start well in white, there are much more difficult days ahead.
Robbie is based in Madrid and is one of the ESPN FC Real Madrid bloggers. Twitter: @robbiejdunne