Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane insists he is not at the lowest points of his career following a week that yielded disappointing defeats to Girona and Tottenham.
Last season, Zidane led Madrid to a LaLiga and Champions League double, and perceived close-season turmoil at rivals Barcelona – which included the high-profile departure of Neymar – led to expectations of further dominance this term.
But the poor 2-1 reverse at Girona last week left Zidane’s men eight points adrift of table-toppers Barca after 10 matches, while Tottenham ran out deserved 3-1 victors in Wednesday’s Champions League encounter.
Consequently, the always intense pressure cooker at the Santiago Bernabeu has been turned up several notches on Zidane, who will face further scrutiny if Madrid fail to beat Las Palmas on home soil on Sunday.
Zidane, though, is confident that Madrid will turn their fortunes around and show their true quality.
“We’re going to work hard, that’s how we’ll change it. We need a positive attitude,” he told a pre-match news conference.
“We’re united, we have a strong bond and not too long ago we were winning titles, matches and playing well.
“Okay we’ve lost two games, it’s not great but it’s not a crisis. We know what we need to do to change things.”
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Asked if this was his toughest test as Madrid boss, he replied: “I don’t think this is the lowest point in my career, I’ve got a strong character, I have plenty of belief.
“Obviously, things are easier when things go well, but when things go against us people have to step up and face those challenges, we’re going to continue working hard and return to winning ways sooner rather than later.
“I’m strong. When things get tough and everybody wants to win titles and pose for winning photographs, this is when it gets tough. The players want that chance to prove they can win again and we’re going to change the negative momentum.”
Zidane was also quick to deny suggestions his side are lacking drive, saying: “I don’t think we’re playing badly, maybe there are spells when we’re not playing to our full potential.
“But the other day we played against a team who played better than us. Tottenham played better than us the other day. Yes, we can play better, but I don’t think that’s our problem.
“There are other things that need to be looked at, we’re going to try and change things.”
After the Tottenham defeat, Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo suggested Madrid have been hit by the loss of experience in the shape of Pepe, Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez, who all departed in the close-season, while admitting key injuries have hampered the team.
But Zidane prefers not to look back at past decisions.
“I’m not going to regret what happened in the past, how things could have changed,” he said.
“The focus is on today’s squad and what we have to do is up the tempo, play with more intensity, everybody can give a little bit more and I’m quite sure everybody will deliver including myself.
“I also have to work harder, transmit more energy, and that’s what we’ll do.”
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