Former Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti believes success or failure this season should not determine Zinedine Zidane’s long-term future at Santiago Bernabeu.
Zidane has made an impressive start since replacing Rafael Benitez in January – Ancelotti’s former assistant has reportedly agreed terms on a new deal which expires in 2018 – but draws against Real Betis and Malaga have seen the team slip nine points behind arch-rivals Barcelona in the race for La Liga.
They are unlikely to make up that deficit if Barca’s exceptional form continues, leaving Madrid to focus on the Champions League, with last week’s 2-0 win at Roma putting them in position to advance to the quarter-finals.
Should they fail to land another European crown, the heat could be turned up on Zidane, but Ancelotti hopes the Frenchman is given more time.
He told Sina Sports: “The Champions League isn’t easy; it requires a huge amount of effort and a high degree of focus, and you have very little room for error. You also need a bit of luck.
“Regardless of how things turn out come the end of the campaign, Zidane should remain as coach next season.”
Despite Madrid’s chances looking bleak in La Liga, Ancelotti expects the team to keep fighting until it becomes impossible to win, adding: “The draw [against Malaga] leaves Real Madrid at a greater disadvantage in the title race but, as Zidane said, Madrid never give up.
“In the Champions League they’re in good shape; they’ve just beaten Roma [in the first leg of the round of 16] and they’re a strong contender for the trophy.”
Zidane’s men face city rivals Atletico on Saturday in the Madrid derby, with Ancelotti tipping his former club to edge it.
“There’s no doubt that it’ll be a battle. I think that Madrid will win at the Bernabeu, but it won’t be easy,” he said.