Real Madrid star Pepe has admitted that life at the Santiago Bernabeu is much harmonious since Jose Mourinho's departure from the club. The Portuguese international suggested that the current Manchester United boss failed to understand the players because, unlike Zinedine Zidane, he had never been a professional footballer.
Mourinho managed at Real Madrid over three fraught seasons, from 2010 to 2013, clashing with the Spanish press and some influential players like Pepe, Iker Casillas and Cristiano Ronaldo. But while he only won one La Liga title and one Copa del Rey, Los Blancos have since returned to winning ways clinching the Champions League twice under Carlo Ancelotti and Zidane after he left the club.
Pepe points out that the current United boss has vast experience but lacked man-management skills because he was never a player.
"Mourinho and Zidane are very different, one could say they are completely opposites. Mourinho has a lot of experience as a coach, in different countries and with great players. Zidane has only just started to train in the first division last year," Pepe revealed in an extensive interview with Cadena Ser. "The experience is different but the most important difference, from my point of view, is that Zidane has been a player himself and always knows what we need at all times on and off the pitch.
"Zidane knows what we think. He had a brilliant career at Madrid as a player so understands what the pressure is like here. That's why he tried to help us and make us to enjoy football."
Pepe went from being one of the favourites of the United boss to becoming an outcast after publicly backing goalkeeper Casillas when Mourinho decided to replace the Real Madrid legend with Diego Lopez. The Real Madrid centre-back admitted that he "has not spoken" to the Portuguese boss since their falling out. He is relieved Mourinho's tenure at the Bernabeu was short-lived.
"You all know what happened with Mourinho but it is in the past now. I was strong and got over it," the centre-back said. "Thanks god I maintained my high level at Madrid.
The Portuguese star was singled out in a number of ill-tempered El Clasico encounters between Barcelona and Real Madrid during Mourinho's reign at the Santiago Bernabeu due to his combative style. But the defender blamed the current United manager for his troubles as he has not received a red card since Mourinho left La Liga.
"It was a difficult year. Maybe (Mourinho played a part in our behaviour). Under Mourinho people hated us when we went to other stadiums," he admitted. "It lasted three years and thanks god it went very quick. Things changed when [Carlo] Ancelotti arrived. You could see people started treating us different again, with more love."
Meanwhile, Pepe has claimed that he is so happy with life under Zidane that he hopes Real Madrid will offer him a new deal soon, as his current contract is due to expire at the end of the campaign.
"I have a contract and will wait until the last nanosecond for the club. There is time, a year in fact, but yes, I'd like to retire here and have told my agent that. Last year there were clubs that wanted me but I told him that I wanted to stay at Real Madrid," the 33-year-old said. "I am very happy. I can't complain about everything. I only have one year left in my contract but I am very optimistic about the future. I am giving my best and I am sure the club can see that and hopefully sort this issue out [and offer me a renewal]. I'd love to retire at Real Madrid. I'm happy at Madrid, my daughter studies here, for me it's an easy decision."