Zinedine Zidane has moved to play down criticism of his Real Madrid squad despite its spluttering form in the past few weeks.
Zinedine Zidane has moved to play down criticism of his Real Madrid squad despite their spluttering form in the past few weeks.
Los Blancos fell 10 points behind arch rivals Barcelona in La Liga's standings following their 0-0 derby draw with Atletico Madrid, and have now won just once in the last four matches.
In quotes published by BBC Sport, Zidane dismissed suggestions that he was overly worried about his team's current displays as he declared that there were tougher managerial jobs to deal with.
He said: "I am optimistic. We can't say we have been playing badly.
"I am immensely lucky, first of all to be in good health and secondly to be making a living from my passion," he said. "I like what I do. There are more difficult jobs."
One player who Zidane did earmark as someone who needed to do better, however, was misfiring striker Karim Benzema.
The France international has come in for concerted stick this campaign - most notably from former marksman Gary Lineker - as he struggles to find the back of the net for Real.
Zidane, who had publicly backed the 30-year-old in previous news conferences, did admit though that Benzema needed to find his scoring boots sooner rather than later.
He said (via the Daily Star): "He [Benzema] is the first one who knows he can give more, because of the confidence issue, especially his confidence in front of goal.
"Strikers maybe need goals for confidence, but he's playing well, the team is playing well. When one goes in more can follow. Let's hope tomorrow [Tuesday] is the day to end the streak."
The France legend also commented on claims that he was resisting the chance to throw in talented young stars such as Dani Ceballos and Theo Hernandez this term, in spite of that duo in particular arriving in the summer for decent sums of cash.
He added: "That [those players' happiness] is a question for the players. As far as I'm concerned, I sit down and chat with players. They're here, they're young.
"They have to work hard, but look at the rise of Marco Asensio, for example. He played less last season, but more this season.
"Ceballos is in a similar position. There are maybe a few players who play less, but it's a learning curve. It's normal that they play less than other squad players. But Dani and the other young players all have big futures here."