Former Real Madrid and Chelsea midfielder Claude Makelele has backed Zinedine Zidane after a poor run of form and claims the Spanish capital club's manager has been subjected to "unfair" criticism.

The 45-year-old La Liga coach played a key role in helping them win Champions League, Uefa Super Cup and Fifa Club World Cup on two occasions, while has also won the league title last term. However, things have not gone as per his plan this season.

Real are struggling in the league this season as they sit fourth in the league table with 39 points after 21 games. They trail league leaders Barcelona by 19 points with a game in hand. The European champions are also knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Leganes in January.

Zidane's side take on in-form Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League round of 16. His Real future will hinge on the Spanish outfit's chances of qualifying to the next stage of the competition.

Makelele, who is currently managing Belgian side Eupen, says people quickly forgot things achieved by his former teammate at Real. He hailed Zidane and suggested that it will be difficult for any other manager to replicate what he has done at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"The treatment that Zidane is given has been unfair. In football, the successes are forgotten too quickly. I know that he will recover, sometimes we call each other simply to encourage one another," Makelele explained, as quoted by the Spanish publication AS.

"He is as good a coach as he was a player. He has the same values as he did on the pitch; he's a leader and a worker. He never hides and he takes all of his responsibilities. Not everyone can help players like he has. That's why Zizou is a great coach. What he has done in two or three years with Real Madrid, no other coach in the world has done."

Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid will face PSG in Champions League knockout stages Reuters