JULEN LOPETEGUI’S TIME IN CHARGE OF REAL MADRID WAS COMPLICATED FROM THE VERY BEGINNING, GIVEN THE NATURE OF HIS EXIT FROM THE SPAIN TEAM, EUAN MCTEAR WRITES.
Julen Lopetegui wasn’t doomed to fail at Real Madrid, but the manner of his appointment certainly didn’t help him as he embarked on the challenge. Having agreed to join Los Blancos after the World Cup, the 52-year-old was dramatically sacked by the Spanish
FA on the eve of the tournament and, therefore, took over at Real Madrid as one of the most divisive figures in Spanish football.
His first match was a very tricky one and a very important one, as he took his new team to Estonia to face Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup. Following an even 90 minutes, which ended with Marcelo missing a game-winning chance, Diego Simeone’s side triumphed in extra time for a 4-2 win.
At that point, Lopetegui was already up against it and, following a promising start to the season, a 481-minute goal drought between September and October saw them drop points in
Europe and in domestic competition, quickly warming up the hotseat. A narrow 2-1 win at home against Viktoria Plzen bought the under-fire Coach some more time, but the 5-1 humbling they suffered at the hands of Barcelona in El Clasico in October spelt the end for a man who started the year dreaming of winning the World Cup and who ended it having been sacked from two of the biggest jobs in world football.