Julen Lopetegui Only Has Himself To Blame6 min read
The history books will show that it was the 5-1 thrashing at the hands of eternal rivals Barcelona that ended Julen Lopetegui’s short reign as Real Madrid coach, but in truth the damage was done long before that game.
Alarm bells have been sounding for weeks now, but rather than heed the warnings, Lopetegui has stood idly by and not done an awful lot.
Off To A Bad Start
In truth, his entire tenure has been mired in one problem or another.
Even his hiring couldn’t have been handled any worse from a PR point of view, and no doubt contributed to Spain’s lacklustre showing in the World Cup.
Nevertheless, at that time, the affable 53-year-old cried tears of happiness as he talked about working for the best club in the world.
Stuck down in ninth position in the La Liga table at the time of writing, Los Blancos look anything but the best, their domestic woes of 2017/18 continuing.
Much has been made of Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Juventus. A suggestion that it is the main determining factor in why Real have underperformed so far isn’t necessarily without merit, however, that neatly overlooks the many and varied problems Julen Lopetegui has encountered, and which have, ultimately, contributed to his sacking.
Alvaro Odriozola was brought in for €30m – a not insignificant cost it must be said – to provide competition for Dani Carvajal. However, when the latter has been injured recently, the coach has turned to Nacho, and against Barcelona, Lucas Vazquez to plug the gap.
Does that mean a full Spanish international who was trusted by Julen Lopetegui when he was in charge of the national team, is now fourth choice right-back at club level?
Captain for club and country, Sergio Ramos has had his poorest season yet for Real, and were it not for his close relationship with Lopetegui and the seniority he enjoys for his club side, he would’ve been dropped by now.
The Goal Drought
Right up until transfer deadline day, the coach put pressure on Florentino Perez to bring in a striker to compensate for Ronaldo’s move, but since then he’s barely given Mariano Diaz a look in. Similarly, he’s not bowed to pressure from all sides to put young Brazilian superstar, Vinicius Junior, into the first team.
Three minutes at the end of the Madrid derby is all the wunderkind has to show on his senior Los Blancos CV so far, with it fairly obvious he’s far too good for the league he’s been playing in with Castilla, Real’s reserve/youth side.
With Bale, Benzema and Asensio so poor in front of goal this season, there’s a cogent argument that one or both of the two new signings deserve a chance.
Four games without a goal, one win in the last eight games in all competitions, players out of position, no cohesion or shape, the worst start to a season ever and performances that shame the name of Real Madrid… it’s no wonder Florentino Perez has shipped Lopetegui out in double quick time, despite his joy when presenting him to the media.
The official statement that was released on Monday night was cutting to say the least.
It now remains to be seen whether early favourite Antonio Conte eventually takes charge, with negotiations stalled at present, or Perez promotes Santiago Solari from Castilla full-time – as he did with Zinedine Zidane… and look how that turned out.
Solari will be handed temporary charge, and with Conte known to rule with an iron fist, Sergio Ramos was asked his opinion on such a hire.
He was quick to point out that “respect is won, not imposed” in the wake of the Clasico defeat. It therefore doesn’t take too much working out to understand the captain’s own preference.
Not that Perez will take that into account…
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