If Gareth Bale’s hat-trick performance on Saturday night left everyone in no doubt he is far too happy playing for Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid to be thinking about interest from Old Trafford, then his post-match comments will have given Manchester United fans some hope – not much, but some.
Asked if he was happy, he replied: “I am happy at the moment. You can never predict what will happen in the future, but right now I am enjoying my football.”
If things change, then so will Bale’s position, but many more nights like this one in the 5-0 thrashing of Deportivo La Coruña in Zidane’s first match and there will only be one place for the Welshman to start next season. “I had a good relationship with Rafa [Benitez] and it was disappointing to see him go, but this happens in football. You are a professional. You get on with it,” Bale said.
There certainly seemed to be an instant chemistry with the new coach, whom Bale admitted having watched as a Real-supporting youngster. “He was playing in that era. He was incredible,” he said.
Zidane reassured Bale in midweek that he would receive the same treatment as he had under Benitez. “We had a chat when he first came in and I will always give 100 per cent,” Bale said. On the title race, with Real third, two points behind Barcelona, he said: “It is still on. This time last year we were clear and we had not lost in 22 games. We know what can happen.”
The future beyond the end of this season may be even tougher to call. Almost as tough as it was for United fans on Saturday, watching their team’s turgid 1-0 win over Sheffield United before heading home, tuning into La Liga – and seeing just what it is they are so desperately missing.