There has been speculation over the Real Madrid future of boss Julen Lopetegui for the last few weeks. On Monday, the European champions ended the speculation by firing the former Spanish boss.
Lopetegui’s appointment was always an ill-fated one. The 47-year-old agreed to become boss of Real Madrid just days before he was due to lead Spain into the World Cup. This led to Spain removing Lopetegui from his position as national team boss.
Real Madrid have been awful of late
Lopetegui oversaw just 14 games as Real Madrid boss. However, it was plain to see in recent games that the team were struggling for results under the former national team boss. The former Porto boss won just six games while in charge of the European champions.
In fact, Los Blancos had suffered four defeats in their last five matches in all competitions prior to Lopetegui’s dismissal. A 5-1 defeat at Barcelona on Sunday and a 2-1 home defeat by little Levante were no doubt the most disappointing results.
Lopetegui was always going to find the job a difficult one considering that the club lost talismanic superstar Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus in the summer. The veteran forward’s departure left a gaping hole in both the team and dressing room.
They no longer had a player who would bail them out of trouble, which had become vital in recent years. In truth, Real Madrid had not always lived up to expectations in La Liga, despite winning the Champions League in three straight seasons.
The loss of high profile boss Zinedine Zidane also left a shadow hanging over the club from the Spanish capital this summer. In many ways taking over this summer was always going to be a poison chalice for any boss.
Lacked managerial experience in the club game
Lopetegui got the Real Madrid job due to his success with Spain’s under-21 team and more recently the senior national team. However, his experience at club level in management is limited.
His longest spell in club management came from 2014-2016, when the Spaniard was in charge of Porto, where he was sacked in January 2016 after elimination from the Champions League.
Some coaches find it hard to adapt from the international game to club management and vice-versa. Maybe Lopetegui is one of those or maybe the Real Madrid job was a case of too much too soon for the former Spain boss.
Solari now the favourite to replace Lopetegui
Real Madrid have placed Santiago Solari in charge on an interim basis. The Argentinian who formerly played for Los Blancos is now the favourite to take the job on a permanent basis.
However, former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is also reportedly in the running for the high-profile job. Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has been linked with the job, but his current club would not allow the Argentinian to leave easily.
Whoever takes the job has a big job on their hands lifting spirits at the Madrid club. Los Blancos find themselves in ninth place in La Liga, seven points behind arch-rivals Barcelona.
It will take an astute coach to turn things around this season. It does look like a big job, but most coaches would find it hard to turn a club like Real Madrid, so it will be interesting to see who takes up the mantle next.
Did Julen Lopetegui make a mistake by taking the Real Madrid job?