Managing Real Madrid is the hardest job in the world


Real Madrid, a football club of 112 years, is considered one of the most established and decorated clubs with many legendary footballers donning their uniforms, such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modrić, and Zinedine Zidane. Real Madrid has won a total of 125 trophies throughout its history—building its reputation as the club of accomplishments.

Los Blancos has appointed 18 managers since 1999. Among them, only Zinedine Zidane and Carlo Ancelotti were re-appointed twice by the club. In fact, Zidane is the longest-serving coach, with a record of 1,720 days. The other managers’ reigns came to an end much sooner.

From the beginning of the 21st century until 2010, Real Madrid had not achieved its ultimate goal, leading to frequent changes to its coaching staff.  The club aspires to dominate the football world. Even with President Pérez’s costly and controversial strategy of recruiting Galácticos, the most iconic footballer of all time, the team achieved its goal.  In that decade, Los Blancos has only won one single UEFA Champions League (UCL) trophy.

The period after 2010 until the present is arguably the most successful in the team’s history—winning five more UCL titles along with titles from La Liga and the Copa del Rey. Despite these recent successes, the team’s management has never been stable.

Ancelotti’s departure during his tenure was shocking since he fulfilled the club’s dream of winning La Decima. Beginning with his term in 2013, Ancelotti transformed Real Madrid’s disappointment of the previous decade into celebration after conquering the European football world. However, he was sacked in mid-2015 after disappointing results of a trophy-less season plagued with mid-season injuries.

Zinedine Zidane was hired in January 2016 as the head coach, after the sacking of Rafael Benitez, Ancelotti’s successor. Zidane was asked by the press later about the difficulty of Los Blancos’ management, and he responded, “Football is easy. I do not promise the fans big hope. I would try to bring the best to Real Madrid.” And that was exactly what he brought with his reign. Zidane pioneered the iconic era of three consecutive UCLs wins and dominated European football for three years.

Besides Zidane’s astounding successes, he left the club fearing the club no longer had faith in him. And thus Madrid went through the familiar disappointment of the past under successive new managers, Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari. Afterward, President Perez called Zidane to come back to normalize the team’s performance. However, Zidane’s comeback did not produce the same results as his first tenure. 

After Zidane’s disastrous second stint, Real Madrid brought back Ancelotti with the aim of re-establishing a resilient mindset to the team, since they were struggling with injuries from the pandemic. Ancelotti’s return resulted in winning the club’s 14th UCL and three miracle comebacks against Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea, and Man City.

However, there are now rumors swirling of another shake-up in the team’s head coach position, and it raises the question of why, despite the unbelievable success of the club’s current manager, Carlo Ancelotti, the club still doubts him and might replace him. 

Some fans are unhappy with Real Madrid’s frequent manager turnover, while others believe it contributes to their profound successes. Other well-established football teams have a philosophy of consistency with their management, that had led to success.  Others, on the other hand, believe that such philosophies would not benefit Real Madrid with major accomplishments, as it is more functional to have a less recognizable game plan under less accomplished coaches, making the team less predictable against opponents.

The club’s intolerance to losses could be the main reason they would never allow poor performance to dominate the locker room for long periods. Real Madrid’s hiring philosophy is notorious for the short leash given to coaches, but its overwhelming success since 2010 manages to silence its critics for the time being.