Julen Lopetegui can’t be surprised his time as Real Madrid coach is up.
Real Madrid announced Monday in a statement it has fired Lopetegui as head coach, ending his tenure after just three-plus months and 14 games in charge. Santiago Solari, currently Real Madrid’s “B” team coach, will take over the first team on an interim basis, while the club determines its next course of action.
“This decision, adopted from the highest level of responsibility, aims to change the dynamics of the first team, when all the objectives of this season are still achievable,” Real Madrid’s statement says.
“The Board of Directors understands that there is a great disproportion between the quality of the staff of Real Madrid, which has 8 players nominated for the next Golden Ball, something unprecedented in the history of the club, and the results obtained to date.”
Lopetegui’s firing comes just one day after Real Madrid lost 5-1 to arch-rival FC Barcelona in El Clasico. His job reportedly was under threat in the days leading up to the game, and the result dropped Real Madrid to ninth in La Liga’s standings with just 14 points after 10 games.
Opta’s statisticians put Real Madrid’s current predicament into perspective.
“The last time Real Madrid were ninth or lower in La Liga at this stage of a season was in 2001/2002 (11th),” Opta writes.
Lopetegui becomes Real Madrid’s second-earliest managerial causality in almost 90 years.
“Since 1929, the only Real Madrid manager to manage fewer games in all competitions than Julen Lopetegui (14) was Jose Antonio Camacho in 2004 (6),” Opta writes.
Real Madrid reportedly has targeted former Chelsea and Juventus coach Antonio Conte as Lopetegui’s long-term successor, but the Italian rejected the Spanish giant because he lacked the support of key players, according to Italian broadcaster Mediaset.
Real Madrid now must start a coaching search from scratch for the second time in four-plus months.
Thumbnail photo via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images