Cristiano Ronaldo has admitted that Real Madrid “feel more empathy” with Zinedine Zidane following Sunday’s 5-1 victory over Sporting Gijon.
Ronaldo helped himself to a brace against Sporting, and he believes his teammates “more excited and happy” with Zidane than his predecessor Rafa Benitez, although he maintains he never fell out with the 55-year-old as some sections of the media claimed.
“Zidane has got the team playing with a different spirit, but that doesn’t mean Benitez wasn’t doing his job well,” he said after the game.
“Things didn’t go well [under Benitez], but football is like that and the truth is that I’ve noticed a spiritual change for the better in the team with Zidane’s arrival.
“Honestly, you have more empathy with some Coaches than others. I did my work naturally, try to be very sincere and do my best for the club, regardless of who commands the team.
“I never had any problems with Rafa. He sees football in a different way to Zizou, but both wanted the best for the club.
“I won’t hide [my opinion]. Don’t ask me why, but the players feel more empathy with Zizou. That’s football.
“Regardless of empathy, you have to be serious about your work. The players are now more excited and happy with Zizou.
“On a personal level, I’m fine, happy doing my job and I want Real Madrid to be successful.
“Zizou is the first person on the training pitch. In person, he’s like Carlo – quiet, serious at work but fun outside of it and has empathy with the players.
“I’m very happy and excited. It’s an interesting time. We’re feeling good, working hard and we have to continue like this because we have so many games left, plus the Champions League.
“It’s normal [that there were no farewell messages for Benitez]. We worked for two years with [Ancelotti] and six months with Rafa.
“It’s like a girlfriend – you can become very close in two years, but after six months it’s more difficult.
“It’s a matter of empathy within a team. If you don’t have that then it’s difficult to play well. I think that’s what happened.
“I don’t think Rafa had enough time to show his personality and adapt to the players.
“Zizou knows us because he has worked with us for some time and knows how to deal with us. That's a bonus. He is closer to us and has charisma.
“[On the Ballon d’Or gala], before the show I had to translate things to [Lionel] Messi and Neymar because they don’t speak English.”