Zinedine Zidane reacted angrily to questions about his Real Madrid future, asking for “respect” and said journalists should “tell me to my face that you want me to go,” adding that changes are likely at the end of the season.
The French coach was giving his first news conference — ahead of Madrid’s La Liga match at Huesca on Saturday — since recovering from COVID-19, which saw him miss their last two games.
A 2-1 defeat to Levante last weekend saw Madrid fall 10 points behind leaders Atletico Madrid — who also have a game in hand — in the title race, while they were also knocked out of the Spanish Supercopa and Copa del Rey last month.
“Are you serious? Everyday I’m out, and you know it,” a visibly angry Zidane said when asked if he was being defensive of his position and his team. “Last year we won the league.
“We did. Real Madrid… Next year they’ll have to do things, make changes maybe. But this year we have the right to fight. Let us fight.
“We won the league last year, not 10 years ago. Show a bit of respect for that. You [journalists] say a lot of things. But you have to take responsibility. Tell me to my face: I want you to go. We want you to go. But you have to say it, not behind my back.”
Zidane — who won three consecutive Champions League titles in his first spell as coach from 2016 to 2018 — appeared ready to admit that he could lose his job this summer if the team fail to overtake Atletico in La Liga or deliver in Europe.
Madrid play Atalanta in the Champions League round of 16, with the first leg on Feb, 24.
“I’m responsible for this squad. If things don’t work, you have to look at who’s responsible,” he said. “Next year, for sure something will have to be done. But this year this squad deserves to keep going.”
Zidane also said that his time in self-isolation recovering from coronavirus hadn’t helped his state of mind.
“One day I’m out, the next day I’m in, the next day we draw or lose and I’m out,” he added. “Every time we play a bad game I get asked about it. I don’t deserve that treatment.
“I’m a bit angry, I’ve been locked in a cage for two weeks and looking forward to getting out and showing that I’ll fight until the end.”
Zidane was also asked about Eden Hazard — putting the latest muscular injury which could see the forward miss the next month down to “bad luck” — and admitted that he had been reluctant to see Martin Odegaard join Arsenal on loan.
“He wanted to leave, he wanted to play. We spoke two or three times,” he said. “If a player wants to play and has an opportunity elsewhere, when it’s the player’s request… he could stay, fight, be calm, it’s a long season, he’s an interesting player but in the end that didn’t happen. It’s everyone’s decision.”