Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane says he does not know if he will still be in charge of the club next season.
Zidane replaced Rafa Benitez as coach in January 2016, winning the Champions League within five months of taking over and currently has the team top of La Liga and into the Champions League quarterfinals.
At a news conference ahead of Saturday’s La Liga derbi at home to Atletico Madrid, Zidane conceded that, despite his success in the job, he could not say for sure whether he would be at the Santiago Bernabeu come August.
“I’ve one more year left [on my contract],” Zidane said. “But I am not sure, so I am not preparing anything [for next season]. I am thinking just about what I have left this season.
“I know how big this club is, I know what it means to be coach of Real Madrid, for good and bad. So I am ready for everything. That is why I always speak of the next game, that is what interests me. And it will always be like that until my last day here as coach. So tomorrow’s game, the three points that are in play. The rest I cannot say what will happen.”
Asked if it would be a failure were Madrid to finish the season without any trophies, Zidane said that that would not be the word he would use.
“I do not know about failure, that is for others to talk about,” he said. “We know that everything is up for grabs in the final stages. What we have done until now means nothing, we have won nothing yet. La Liga is in play, the Champions League is in play, and we will see how it goes.”
Atletico famously went 14 years without a derbi win up until the 2013 Copa del Rey final, but Diego Simeone’s side have now won on their last three league visits to their rivals.
Zidane said that neither Atletico’s 1-0 win last February nor his team’s 3-0 victory at the Vicente Calderon in October has any bearing on how the next clash will go.
“I do not think about that defeat, or the victory in the first game this season,” he said. “Each game has its own story, and Atletico are in very good form. They defend well, but not just that. Over the years, during Simeone’s time, they have improved a lot. They know how to play good football. We will try to disrupt them tomorrow.”
Cristiano Ronaldo was rested for Wednesday’s 4-2 La Liga win at Leganes and Zidane says he is ready to put in a big performance against Atletico.
“In the big games, Cristiano always shows up,” he said. “He is ready for this final stage of the season. Every game he plays he wants to score a goal, to be the important player for his team. That energy he has, that drive he has, is very positive for all those around him.”
Zidane added that his big-name players, including Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, know that they will be taken out of the XI from time to time.
“We talk with Cristiano and that’s it,” he said. “The same was with the others. They are intelligent people, they know the idea I have. When, for example, Cristiano or Gareth are rested like the other day, it is that we have many games. We go game by game and hope that physically we will finish the season [well].”
Zidane also played down the angry reaction of James Rodriguez after being substituted during the Leganes game.
“There is no issue with James,” he said. “These things always happen between players and coach. Both James and I want the same things. We just move on, both of us, and think about tomorrow’s game.”