It’s quite incredible how quickly things can change in football. In June, prior to the World Cup, Julen Lopetegui was receiving plaudits for revitalising the Spanish national side, now, just a little over four months on, he has been told to pack his bags for the second time, following a disappointing spell in Madrid.
Lopetegui,who was dismissed just two days before Spain were due to face-off against Portugal, has seen his stock plummet in a ferociously quick fashion, following his sacking from Real Madrid today.
After a dismal start to the season, Real are languishing down in ninth place: not the start the team would’ve expected, particularly after they secured their third consecutive Champions League just months ago.
The humiliating mauling at the hands of Barcelona on Sunday, meant the inevitable followed today. Only a phenomenal performance would have kept him in the job, instead he goes out with a whimper. With just one victory in their last seven, he was never going to last too much longer at Los Blancos, especially with Real’s ruthless precedent for managerial sackings, but defeat in El Clásico was the final nail in the coffin.
Who will take his place?
Though rumours are still circulating that Antonio Conte could come in, for the time being they have plumped for Santiago Solari – the former Madrid midfielder who has been managing their second team this season. This internal appointment has sparked rumours that they could be postponing the managerial appointment until the summer, when they could tempt to coax the likes of Mauricio Pochettino and Jose Mourinho from their Premier League positions – although some fans may hope they have unearthed another Zinedine Zidane.
Unfortunately for Lopetegui, he has been battered and scarred in the merciless world of elite football management, and he has been spat out the other end dazed and confused. Four months ago, he was about to manage his country at a World Cup, now he will look to rebuild a beaten reputation.
Nobody likes to see someone lose their job and, in this circumstance, it is particularly galling considering where he was just half a year ago, but some will say he paid the price for his own greed.
It will be interesting to see what direction both parties go in next, but if one thing is certain, it is that Lopetegui will undoubtedly take more care and consideration with his future career moves.