Real Madrid legend Raul believes Los Blancos could win silverware under manager Zinedine Zidane as early as this season, but he has urged the fans to be patient if the club finishes the campaign with empty hands.
The former striker believes Zidane's magnificent playing career will demand the respect of his players, and given Los Blancos' obvious talent, he will find success in the Spanish capital.
Speaking to beIN Sports (h/t MailOnline's Jack Bezants), he said:
He knows what people really want. Why not dream of ending this year with something to shout about?
And, failing that, he will have to be given time so that next season all the work he is doing can bear fruit.
I think that the message Zidane has to offer will get through to the players, because he was a world-class player.
He'll go down as one of the best ever because of what he won and how he played and he'll be able to make the players buy into his message, having inherited a squad brimming with talent.
Real are undefeated since Zidane replaced former manager Rafa Benitez in January, winning four of their last five matches in La Liga, per WhoScored.com.
While there have been some struggles against teams like Real Betis and Granada, Los Blancos look far more vibrant and attack-oriented under the Frenchman than they did under Benitez. In their last five matches, they've scored an astonishing 19 goals.
But despite those impressive numbers, they still chase Barcelona by four points in the La Liga standings, and the Catalans still have a match in hand. The club was also disqualified from the Copa del Rey for fielding an ineligible player, and in all likelihood, the UEFA Champions League will present their best chance of winning some silverware.
But Zidane's appointment was made with an eye on the future, not the present. The former midfielder has returned a sense of optimism to the Spanish capital, and he shouldn't be expected to find immediate success―rather, he should prepare the squad for a major run next season.
Per the Press Association's Richard Martin, he's already learned some vital lessons:
So Zidane has learned what Rafa couldn't grasp: Indulge Cristiano at every opportunity, always say he is better than Messi whenever asked.— Richard Martin (@rich9908) February 10, 2016
Los Blancos will be contenders in Europe simply because of the incredible amount of talent they field, but following Benitez's rocky spell in charge of the club, Real lack the momentum other European giants like Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain have.
The fact they trail the Blaugrana in La Liga could turn out to be a blessing in disguise, allowing Zidane to focus his attention on the Champions League.
Meanwhile, Raul opened up on his stint with Qatari side Al Sadd between 2012 and 2014, explaining what made the league so appealing to him.
In the same interview with beIN Sports (h/t Marca), he said:
There are 18 teams who are all from the same city. You don't have to fly anywhere, you always travel by coach, you'd get home much quicker and it was all much more laid-back. The people are passionate about football, they love it, but they'd rather watch it on TV, they're not that big on going down to the stadium. It was an experience.
Raul moved to Al Sadd from Schalke 04 in 2012 and briefly played for the New York Cosmos before he retired from professional football. He won a title with Al Sadd and the Cosmos but will always be remembered for his remarkable years with Real, where he became one of the club's greatest scorers.
He won six titles and three Champions Leagues with Los Blancos, playing alongside Zidane in the final in 2002. Both scored in the 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen.
The 38-year-old knows Zidane better than most and is clearly still impressed with his former team-mate. It's that kind of respect the Frenchman will also demand from the fans, which should buy him enough time and credit to build this Real squad into the kind of team he envisions with an eye on future success.