Julen Lopetegui has been fired as coach of Real Madrid with only 138 days in the position that cost him his chance to lead Spain in the World Cup. Lopetegui was fired by the Spanish Football Federation in June after the president of the RFEF, Luis Rubiales, claimed to have discovered only five minutes before the appointment was made public and two days before the tournament began; Now he has been fired by Madrid after the hammering of 5-1 against Barcelona on Sunday.
That defeat was the third consecutive of Madrid in the League. Midfielder Casemiro called the team a "disaster" and described the defeat as the "image of our season." Previously, Madrid had spent eight hours without scoring, 12 minutes of their worst race, and have lost five and won just one of their last seven games, a convincing 2-1 victory against the Czech team Viktoria Plzen that ended with the fans . whistling to show his dissatisfaction. Defeated in the European Supercup in his competitive debut, Lopetegui has lost as many games as he has won in all competitions: six of 14.
On Sunday, Lopetegui insisted that he had the "strength" to continue, but the decision was not his. Madrid is currently ninth at the table and the club issued a statement on Monday night confirming that they had unilaterally released the coach, who has now been fired from the two largest jobs in Spain in just four months. There was no press conference or appearance by the president to explain the decision.
"The board understands that there is a big difference between the quality of the Real Madrid team, which has eight players nominated for the Golden Ball, unprecedented in the history of the club, and the results achieved so far," said the club. declaration. "We are grateful to Lopetegui and his staff and we wish them the best in their professional career."
Santiago Solari, who manages the Madrid team of Castilla, will take charge interim, starting with the trip on Wednesday to face Melilla in the Copa del Rey.
Madrid said they would bring in former Chelsea coach Antonio Conte, whom they contacted more than three weeks ago, but the talks stopped on Monday. Although there is no final decision, there was little optimism that a deal would be made with the Italian. The reason is not yet clear, but the captain of Madrid, Sergio Ramos, made it clear that he did not like the prospect. Asked about the perspective of a manager like Conte with firm hand – an iron fist – when he arrived at the Bernabéu, Ramos responded: "Respect is won, it is not imposed".
Although he did not mention them, Ramos clearly referred to Vicente del Bosque, Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane, none of whom is authoritarian and all had a close relationship with the team, when he added: "We have had success with the coaches that I do not need. name, but you all know, sometimes knowing how to handle a dressing room is more important than technical capacity. "
The president of Madrid, Florentino Pérez, believes that he needs a manager to run a dressing room that has become too comfortable, but the prospect of a conflict from the beginning is not something that Conte has enjoyed.
One of the criticisms that Pérez made to Lopetegui was that he was too lenient with the team and quickly lost faith in the coach, at least in part because he did not have much faith to start. After Zidane announced his surprise resignation, Madrid sought to bring a series of managers to take over, including Mauricio Pochettino and Max Allegri of Juventus, before eventually turning to Lopetegui for extremely limited options. Few wanted to follow Zidane, winner of three consecutive Leagues of Champions. Some also saw flaws in the team: Zidane himself had warned of the need to make changes after a season in which, while winning the European Cup, also ended third in La Liga, 17 points behind Barcelona.
For Lopetegui, the opportunity was one that he could not pass up. He did not think that would mean that he would be denied the possibility of training Spain in the World Cup. He did not request that Madrid wait or that talks be held with the Federation, whose president was furious when he was presented with a fait accompli.
Lopetegui was announced at the Bernabéu the day after he was sent home from Russia.
"Yesterday the saddest day of my life; Today is the happiest. "It would always be difficult to dissociate the two days: being a Madrid manager would always be tinged with some regret, even if he was successful, although Madrid started the league season brilliantly and was impressive in its debut In the Champions League against Roma, the results soon abandoned them, Lopetegui lamented injuries and bad luck, but that excuse did not convince.
He was careful not to publicly challenge the decisions made at the boardroom level, but with Neymar, the only player Madrid was prepared to spend in a big way and the market change, the team has weakened in the last three years. That morning, El Mundo published an interview with the elderly father of Lopetegui in which he complained that "he had removed fifty goals" to his son, with the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Perez was also not happy that there was no room for the Brazilian Vinicius, 18, who Lopetegui left in team B. The legal staff of the club managed to cancel the ban after a red card that played for Castilla last weekend , which freed Vinicius to play the classic on Sunday. He traveled with the team, losing the game of Castilla, but Lopetegui left him out of the team of the day.
The position of the manager had already become almost untenable. the classic It could have been an opportunity to avoid the inevitable, and some players expressed their support, but Madrid were defeated 5-1 and slipped seven points behind their rivals. "I know what football is like," he said later.