Cape Town - Real Madrid defender Marcelo says the club needed new direction after stuttering under Rafael Benitez and has praised Zinedine Zidane for "breathing life back" into the team since taking over as coach in January.
Newcastle United's relegation from the English Premier League on Wednesday completed a miserable season for Benitez who was sacked by Real barely six months into the job.
The Spaniard left with Real third in the table, four points off the top of La Liga.
Frenchman Zidane has cut the gap on leaders Barcelona to a single point going into the final games of the season at the weekend, and has led the team into an all-Spanish Champions League final with Atletico Madrid later this month.
"The coach has helped us a lot and breathed life back into us," Marcelo said in an interview with sponsors Bwin. "We all spoke and we knew we had to change something.
"We've changed and it's been for the best. Many things have changed for the better."
Real head into Saturday's game at Deportivo La Coruna in their best domestic form of the campaign, having won the last 11 matches.
"I don't like talking about numbers but the truth is we're really happy with Zidane," Marcelo said.
"He's a great coach."