The cleaver fell. Julen Lopetegui is no longer the coach of Real Madrid. The Spanish club announced on Monday the sacking of the one who was named last June, just before the start of the World Cup. The former coach of La Roja will be replaced, from Tuesday, by Santiago Solari. But this decision is for the moment provisional.
A fine white thread. But it was a long time coming on Monday. It was finally in the evening that Real Madrid officially announced the dismissal of Julen Lopetegui from his Casa Blanca post after the complicated results of the club merengue, but especially the spanking received on Sunday at the Clasico against Barça (5-1). While the name of Antonio Conte has been circulating for the last few hours before the track gets cold, the Madrid club has decided to temporarily appoint Santiago Solari, coach of the Castilla, who will therefore lead the first team on Tuesday.
This Monday, Julen Lopetegui was still at the controls of the first team. To everyone’s surprise, the former Roja coach led the training session. But his fate had been sealed for several weeks. And it is not the recent results of Casa Blanca that have called things into question. It was quite the opposite with the humiliation experienced on Sunday at Camp Nou.
In its statement, the merengue club does not beat about the bush: “this decision aims to change the dynamics in which the first team finds itself, even though all the objectives of the season remain affordable. The steering committee considers that there is a great disparity between the results obtained so far and the quality of the players in the Real Madrid squad, eight of whom have been nominated for the next Gold Ball, a figure unprecedented in the club’s history.”
Cruel but fair to Lopetegui who did not manage to impose his paw and get into the Real coach costume, just after the reign of Zinédine Zidane. After just 139 days on the post, Lopetegui was ousted after a deep Performance crisis during which his team remained more than eight hours in a row without scoring, losing five times in his last seven matches. The former coach of FC Porto will have thus lived a black 2018, between his dismissal from his position of coach of a favourite Spain to the final victory in Russia a few days before the start of the competition and this new affront.
Solari for two weeks … or more ?
The question of the successor now arises. At the same time, Antonio Conte was presented as the one who would succeed him by all the Spanish media. Finally, faced with the difficulties encountered in the case of the former Italian coach and the lifting of Shield of some executives of the dressing room, Florentino Perez decided to delay. Thus, it is Santiago Solari, former Argentine international, Former Player of Real and until now coach of Castilla who takes over the reins. The 42-year-old former left wing of the “Galactiques” (2000-2005) lacks experience at the highest level but is a man of the “White House” who knows the workings of the club. “We professionals are here to help the club in good times, of course, let alone in tough times,” he said last week.
The communiqué states that this is a temporary take-up of duties. To give Perez time to turn around. Or Solari to assert himself as a credible recourse to the head of the largest club in the world. He will begin his mission on Wednesday in the 16th round of the King’s Cup final in Melilla (Spanish enclave in Morocco). But this solution can only be temporary.
As Marca explained on Monday, a temporary appointment can only be made for a fortnight. At the end of these two weeks, the club in question must officially appoint a coach or transform the contract of the reserve coach into a professional contract. In other words, The Real Madrid saga may be just beginning. To the shame of the fans who would have liked a little stability after a hot summer already.