Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane was reportedly nearly sacked by president Florentino Perez in August of last year for his poor results and style of football with the Castilla side.
That's according to a report from Extraconfidencial (h/t Sport's Alejandro Alcazar), which claimed director Jose Angel Sanchez talked Perez out of the decision―saying he didn't “dare” sack the club legend.
Per Alcazar, Zidane also reportedly had a poor relationship with some “high-ranking members” of the club:
The point of inflection was on August 5 of last year, during pre-season. Real Madrid had sacked Carlo Ancelotti and had taken a bet on a manager with a very different profile: Rafa Benitez. His aim was to relaunch Real Madrid through discipline, hard work and with a tough style.
At that moment, Florentino Perez was disappointed with Zidane's work with Real Madrid Castilla. "Jose Angel [Sanchez], I want you to sack Zidane right now for his rudimentary football." An interesting comment and one which contrasts with the fact that Zidane is now the new manager of the first team.
But the strongest part of this information is Perez's main complaint that he wanted him gone for his "bad relationship with the high-ranking members at the club."
While the claims certainly are sensational, Perez is known as an impatient man who isn't afraid to make rash decisions. Bleacher Report's Ryan Bailey made a list of some of the shortest-serving managers he has had during his tenure as president, and Rafa Benitez didn't even crack the top three with his 25 matches.
Zidane is a legend of the sport, but his short career as a coach has been inconsistent, to put it mildly. Per FourFourTwo's Andrew Murray, the results he achieved with Castilla were hardly impressive and gave little reason to believe he could possibly handle the Real Madrid dressing room.
He's been a hit since taking the top job, however, bringing a more vibrant and attacking playing style than his predecessor. While there have been some growing pains, fans certainly have more reasons to be optimistic than they did when Benitez was in charge.
Per former Real boss Carlo Ancelotti, the Frenchman has everything to become a great coach, as reported by Stefan Coerts of Goal:
The best thing you can say about Zidane is that he doesn't have experience, just like when I started coaching or my professional playing career.
Zidane has everything you need to be a great coach. He has the ability, charisma, personality and knows football inside-out. He has the profile of a Real Madrid coach.
A coach succeeds by working hard to ensure his players give their all. Zidane has that charisma and personality, meaning his players will respond well to him.
Per Murray, his final few months with Castilla were better than the first year he managed the team, which gives more reasons to believe he's growing as a coach, and even better things are on the horizon.
Per WhoScored.com, Los Blancos are undefeated since Zidane became their manager in January, and while there have been a handful of poor showings from the team―the draw against Real Betis and narrow win over Granada come to mind―they have won four of their last five in La Liga.
Zidane will surely be given enough time to settle in and alter the team's playing style and philosophy, putting Los Blancos in a position to challenge rivals Barcelona in La Liga. Perez knows his new manager is hugely popular―if that stopped him from sacking Zidane in the past, it should do so again.