Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane has won six of nine matches since being appointed as Real Madrid's head coachGetty Images

Former Real Madrid midfielder Steve McManaman says he was surprised by Zinedine Zidane succeeding Rafael Benitez as manager of the Spanish giants. Zidane, 43, has overseen a largely positive run of results since being promoted to the first team from his coaching role at Real Madrid Castilla in January, including a 2-0 win at Roma in the Champions League round of 16 first leg.

However, there has been renewed scrutiny on Zidane's appointment after Real suffered their first defeat under the Frenchman against Atletico Madrid on 27 February to fall to 12 points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona.

"I didn't think in the dressing room he'd be a manager. When he arrived he didn't speak Spanish and he was very quiet," McManaman, who made 94 league appearances for Madrid between 1999 and 2003, told the Express daily.

"He was an incredible footballer but he normally spoke French and only French. He spoke Italian as well of course but he spoke French mainly and kept himself to the likes of Claude Makelele, who in his own way was quiet too.

"But you wouldn't think he would be Madrid manager because he wasn't very vocal in the dressing room."

Long-term planning

The former Liverpool playmaker said he hoped Zidane is given time to implement his vision at the Bernabeu and urged Real to plan long-term to return to success.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Real Madrid are all but out of the La Liga title race after their loss against AtleticoReuters

"I hope that Madrid have got plan for managers now as opposed to going round the world and getting this guy before sacking him and getting Carlo [Ancelotti] or Jose [Mourinho] or Fabio [Capello] or Rafa," he stated.

"Now they've run out of names and I hope they give Zizou a chance and they've got other guys in the system like Solari, Luis Miguel Ramis and Guti."

Real's next league assignment sees them travel to the Ciutat de Valencia to take on Levante on 3 March.