ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Zinedine Zidane has admitted that constant speculation about his future as Real Madrid coach has been bothering him in the build up to Tuesday’s Champions League Group A game against Galatasaray.
Real landed in Istanbul reeling from a shock 1-0 defeat to Real Mallorca, their first loss in La Liga this season which allowed Barcelona to take over at the top of the standings.
Just as when his side were humbled 3-0 by Paris St Germain in the Champions League last month, the latest domestic defeat has led to suggestions in the Spanish media that Zidane’s job is at risk and Jose Mourinho could be in line to replace him.
“I won’t say that I’m not bothered by (the speculation), it does bother me, but all I can do is give everything and think positively,” Zidane, who has won three Champions League titles as Real coach, told a news conference on Monday.
“What has happened is in the past and in football everything you have done gets forgotten quickly, it’s what you do in the present that matters.”
The 13-times European champions are bottom of Group A with one point and defeat against Galatasaray would leave their hopes of remaining in the competition hanging in the balance.
Zidane, however, believes his team can turn things around.
“We all know we have made a bad start in the Champions League but tomorrow is a new game and we’re going to try and win,” he said.
“Every game at Real Madrid is like a final, I first came here 18 years ago (as a player) and I know what it’s like and how you are always under pressure,” added the 47-year-old.
Real captain Sergio Ramos said the players were also getting fed up of the uncertainty about Zidane’s position.
The French coach returned to the club in March 10 months after resigning from the role, after successors Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari were sacked.
“It would be very easy for the club to say Zidane will stay until the end of the season and then this speculation would end. We are tired of hearing about all the coaches that could come to Real Madrid,” Ramos said.
“We’re only focused on winning tomorrow. Everyone has a different way of measuring form but we’re relaxed, we know that if we work hard we’ll get our reward.”
Real are still without injured pair Gareth Bale and Luka Modric but Toni Kroos has returned.
(Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)