First of all let us just rewind the clock to June this year…
A feast of summer football is about to begin in Russia, the World Cup 2018 is upon us and the usual suspects are fancied to contest the latter stages of the biggest tournament in the game.
Spain, quite rightly – are tipped by many – due to their talent pool and their unbeaten run in qualification which saw them win all but one game, topping a group also containing Italy.
Having arrived in Russia for the tournament, it was announced that Lopetegui would take over as the Head Coach of Real Madrid on a three-year contract after the conclusion of Spain’s involvement at the World Cup.
The following day, he was dismissed from his job with the national team after the SFF stated it was unaware of the talks between one of its countries biggest clubs and Lopetegui.
Surprisingly Spain were eliminated by the host nation in the last 16, but this just left unanswered questions for the former Porto gaffer and a spotlight that turned out to be too bright in the dugout of the Santiago Bernabeu.
Fast forward just a matter of weeks and before the festive period is upon us – Julen Lopetegui has been dismissed as Manager of Real Madrid after a less than impressive, unacceptable start to life in the Spanish capital.
Fair to say that the board didn’t hold back in their statement either “there is great disproportion between the quality of staff of Real Madrid”
Played 14 – Won 6 – Drawn 2 – Lost 6
To have lost as many as you have won whilst in charge of one of the world’s biggest clubs is cause for concern enough. However it is the manner of loss and against whom that has forced Florentino Perez to act accordingly.
UEFA Super Cup defeat to City rival Atletico followed by a stalemate against the same opponent in La Liga. A resounding 3-0 loss to Sevilla, back to back humiliations against Alaves and Levante with an unthinkable CSKA disaster in the UCL. Most recently, a 5-1 demolition at the hands of a Barcelona minus Messi was an embarrassment too far.
The 52-year-old will be “provisionally replaced” by ex-player Santiago Solari, coach of B team Castilla. But there is a twist that will need untangled and quickly…
Under Spanish regulations, an interim coach can be at the helm for a fortnight – but must be appointed officially after 15 days, or not at all.
Longer term, Former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is widely expected to replace the former goalkeeper and become Real’s 3rd manager this calendar year.
Following the surprise resignation of treble Champions League winner Zidane was always going to be a tough ask, but to replace him without a certain Cristiano Ronaldo in your side is even harder.
Lopetegui’s overriding error was that he did not make moves to replace the talisman nor seek assurances around his future before accepting the position. You’d have to suggest that Zizou knew what was on the horizon.
With his reputation damaged by his recent decisions both on and off the pitch, it will take a sensational recovery if Lopetegui has aspirations to remain a high level coach.
A shocking 2018 can’t end soon enough for the Spaniard, what a miserable few months he’s had.
Julen Lopetegui image sourced from www.standard.co.uk