Raul is the fans’ choice to be Real Madrid’s next boss but it’s not that simple… he’s following Zidane’s path to the top and has been compared to Del Bosque – yet now he must convince Perez to look past Allegri
- Real Madrid legend Raul is the fans’ choice to succeed Zinedine Zidane as boss
- The Spaniard has impressed while in charge of Real’s B-team in recent years
- Parallels have been drawn between Raul and ex-Real boss Vincente Del Bosque
- However, Florentino Perez is intent on hiring Max Allegri should Zidane leave
It is a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’ Raul becomes first-team coach at Real Madrid. The one thing stopping it from happening at the end of this season is the president’s clear preference for Max Allegri.
If it were up to the supporters Raul would be the replacement for Zinedine Zidane. He remains the one figure in the club’s modern history who unites fans. No one has played more games for the club and only Cristiano Ronaldo has scored more goals.
But Perez has just won another election unopposed and he has his mind set on bringing in the 53-year-old Italian instead of the 43-year-old Spaniard.
Real Madrid icon and B-team boss Raul (above) is the fans’ choice to succeed Zinedine Zidane
Max Allegri (left) and Raul are being touted as the two main men to become Real’s next boss
The ultra-professional former Spain striker has impressed in charge of the B-team this season and it’s the young players who he has coached all year that are now breaking through into the first team.
It was Raul who won the club its first ever UEFA Youth League last season and it was attacking left-back Miguel Gutierrez, attacking midfielder Sergio Arribas, holding midfielder Antonio Blanco, right winger converted to right back Marvin Park, and centre-back Victor Chust who impressed in that run and have since made their debuts for the first team.
It can be hard to decipher when a youth team coach is gifted or has simply inherited a brilliant generation of players. At Real Madrid’s sprawling Valdebebas training complex the verdict on Raul is that, while he has been helped out by the quality available to him, he has the drive to reach the same heights as a coach that he reached as a player.
Current boss Zinedine Zidane is set to walk away from the Bernabeu at the end of the season
His determination has always been his greatest strength. He forced his way into the Real Madrid first team as a 17-year-old thanks in large part to an unshakeable belief in his own worth.
In 1994, having joined Real Madrid from Atletico because they had dismantled their youth system, he was finding his progress blocked.
When he was left out of an Under 18s cup final he was so furious he practically packed up his things and headed back to Atletico, who had since reformed their youth system and were set to welcome him with open arms.
Then-Real Madrid coach Jorge Valdano got wind of Raul’s impatience with his own lack of progress and made it his business to make sure he stayed. Raul played the first three months of the following season in Madrid’s B-team but by October he had made his first-team debut.
No one has played more games for the club than Raul and remains a fan favourite of the club
He showed similar determination at the end of his career too. In his final season at the club he was often a substitute as Manuel Pellgrini juggled a dressing room that was top heavy with striking options.
Raul could often be seen prowling the touchline while warming up in games, looking more like a coach than a sub, barking instructions and pointing fingers at the players on the pitch.
When Jose Mourinho took over in 2010 it was clear he was too shrewd to have Raul about the place potentially undermining his authority as a reserve-team player and it was decided that he would leave, but instead of taking the easy option of a far-off lucrative league he wanted to experience playing in Europe for another team and he moved to Germany and played for two seasons at Schalke.
Madrid chief Florentino Perez has his mind set on bringing Allegri in as the club’s next boss
Sportsmail went to Gelsenkirchen to interview him and found a veteran gleefully squeezing the last drop out of his career in Europe.
‘I speak with a lot of players who have stopped playing and they go to the gym for two hours a day and say “now I run 10km a day”. When they were still playing they would complain about running for 10 minutes!’ he said during a long chat in the Schalke canteen. He was out of the Madrid bubble and loving every minute of it.
But Madrid is home again now. He said as much after Real Madrid were beaten in the promotions play-offs at the weekend. That loss condemns them to another season in the country’s regionalised third tier and Raul looks set to give winning promotion another crack if he doesn’t get the top job.
But the old Raul impatience is showing itself and any doubts about how ready he might be for the step up are not shared by the man himself.
Eintracht Frankfurt sporting director Ben Manga had ambitious plans to bring Raul back to Germany this summer.
Parallels have been drawn between Raul and ex-Madrid boss Vincente Del Bosque (right)
It now seems like the Bundesliga club will turn to Borussia Dortmund’s interim coach Edin Terzic but Raul is clearly starting to appear on the shortlists of various European directors of football.
Parallels have been drawn between Raul and Vincente Del Bosque because of a shared set of values and a belief in a certain way of doing things.
The perceived similarities will not have done Raul any favours with Perez who sacked Del Bosque in 2003 against the will of a strong Real Madrid dressing room, and whose olive branch to him after he went on to win the World Cup has always been politely rejected ever since.
If Perez gets his way this summer, Allegri will be Madrid’s new coach. But that will still only be delaying what seems inevitable – Raul in charge at the Bernabeu.