Zidane ‘optimistic’ ahead of new campaign despite troubled pre-season

Zinedine Zidane insists he is “optimistic” about Real Madrid’s prospects this season and has appealed to fans to get behind the club.

Real travel to Celta Vigo on Saturday and have not lost on the opening day of the previous 10 campaigns, but Zidane is already under pressure after a mediocre end to last season and some underwhelming pre-season performances – including a 7-3 thrashing by city rivals Atletico.

After he returned for a second spell in charge at the Bernabeu in March, Madrid won just five of their last 11 games of the season, prompting Zidane to admit: “The best thing for us is that it’s over.”

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Zidane promised changes would be made and Eder Militao, Ferland Mendy, Luka Jovic, Rodrygo and Eden Hazard all signed for a total close to 300 million euros, but Hazard (thigh) has been ruled out for several weeks and Gareth Bale’s contentious move to China fell through.

Other high-profile targets such as Paul Pogba and Neymar seem unlikely to make the move and boost Real’s bid to win the title for just the second time in eight years.

“He plays for Manchester United and you have to respect that,” Zidane said of Pogba in his pre-match press conference.

Speculation continues to link Paul Pogba with a move to Madrid

Speculation continues to link Paul Pogba with a move to Madrid (Martin Rickett/PA)

“We’re here thinking about tomorrow’s game. Neymar is not a Real Madrid player and I just said that the important players are the ones who are here.”

As for Welsh star Bale, Zidane added: “It seemed he was leaving and now he’s here with us. The dynamics and things change, but I will count on him.

“He has a good record and is an important player and I hope that all the players want to make it difficult for me to pick the team.

“When things don’t go how they should or the results are not what they wanted, people will always talk about it.

Zidane insists he is optimistic ahead of the new season

Zidane insists he is optimistic ahead of the new season (Adam Davy/PA)

“I’d like to say to the fans that this is just the beginning, we need the fans that are always behind the team and we’re going to try to give them what they want by playing good football, and that’s it.

“We’re optimistic as the league season begins. Everyone can say what they want about what they have seen so far, with the new players and those that were here before, but now the league starts, which is the big competition and we’re very optimistic.

“We want to make the fans happy, play good football and that’s what it’s all about. Things are going to be done little by little, starting with tomorrow’s game.”

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