Sacked twice in 4 months: Julen Lopetegui’s sorry tale as Real Madrid and Spain manager

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first_imgAfter all the hassle during the World Cup earlier this year, Julen Lopetegui would now feel it was not worth it as his tenure as a Real Madrid coach came to an abrupt end late on Monday.He lasted just 140 days as the Real Madrid boss and was replaced by the Castilla manager Santiago Solari. He only managed 14 games at Real, the second least since Jose Antonio Camacho in 2004, who managed six games. He now has the lowest win percentage of the club’s last five managers, with just 42.86 during his 14 games in charge.Under Lopetegui, Real won four and lost four matches in the La Liga and drew two. In the Champions League, they won two and lost one but still top Group G.But, being at Real Madrid, this is not enough. You are expected to win all the games and losing these many matches usually means doom.Flashback to June, Spain were being considered as one of the top dogs for the World Cup, thanks to Lopetegui’s good work with the 2010 champions. However, all hell broke loose before La Roja’s first game of the tournament against Portugal when a surprise announcement from Florentino Perez took the Spanish FA by storm.Also read – Real Madrid sack Julen Lopetegui, appoint Santiago Solari interim coachBeing shaken himself a few weeks back after Zinedine Zidane decided to step down, Perez this time decided to knowingly or unknowingly…only he would know…surprise a few Spanish bosses. The Los Blancos president announced that Lopetegui will take over the reins at Real after the World Cup and all this happened while Spain were preparing for their first clash against Portugal and without Luis Rubiales’s being in the know how.advertisementAnd, that did not go down well with Rubiales — Lopetegui was sacked immediately with Fernando Hierro taking over as interim coach. Quite expectedly, Spain did not do well and were knocked out by hosts Russia in the Round of 16.But, this was none of Lopetegui’s concern it seemed. He was happy at Madrid and didn’t want any piece of what happened in Moscow. For him, it was about giving his best for Real Madrid and taking the club forward after three consecutive Champions League victories under Zinedine Zidane and powered by Cristiano Ronaldo.However, Ronaldo left for Juventus after nine successful years and Lopetegui had to pin his hopes on Welshman Gareth Bale and youngsters in Marco Asensio, Isco and their new No.7 in Mariano Diaz, who along with Vinicius Junior, were set to woo the crowd at the Santiago Bernabeu. Also, in came right-back Alvaro Odriozola from Real Sociedad and that was it for business.And, all was well in pre-season and Bale was scoring and it seemed that he is enjoying the freedom…away from the Ronaldo’s shadows. But, as the season kicked off, the goals dried up and after a point, not only Bale, no one was firing and that was when, Bernabeu realised what they were missing. Real Madrid lost 5-1 to Barcelona in the recent El Clasico (AP Photo)Real had made their worst start in years and two weeks back they lost to Levante to home to suffer their third straight loss in the Spanish top flight. Not only that, the club also set an unwanted record of 482 minutes without scoring a goal. Thankfully, Marcelo finally snapped their long spell without a goal by smashing into the net in the second half. But, they couldn’t rally from behind to get a point even against a much less-fancied Levante side.Lopetegui was hanging by a thread. After so much success, Perez and the Real fans were not going to take anything like this from their club. His next assignment was in the Champions League and his team did hold on to a 2-1 win against Czech side Plzen but the weekend’s El Clasico against Barcelona was going to be his litmus test…and he failed.Barcelona thrashed Real 5-1 and went eight points ahead of Real and sent them to No.9 in the league table — five points away from the fourth spot, currently held by Atletico Madrid, who have 19 points from 10 games.Time was up for him it seemed as links to former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte grew stronger. And, on Monday, his sob story finally came to an expected end.Lopetegui, therefore, became the coach to serve the least amount of time as Real coach since the turn of the millennium. Vicente Del Bosque served the most with 1,315 days to his name. The closest to Lopetgui in terms of least days served is Juande Ramos, who served as Real coach from 2008 to 2009. He was replaced by Manuel Pellegrini, who served a year from 2009 to 2010.advertisement Julen Lopetegui just managed 14 games at Real Madrid since taking over in June (AP Photo)The last three Real Madrid managers before Lopetegui were Jose Mourinho, Rafael Benitez and Zinedine Zidane. While Zidane served 879 days before walking away at the start of the season, Benitez managed Real for 216 days before getting the sack and Mourinho before that had managed Real for 1,101 days.With little or no options left, Real would be hoping to replace Lopetegui with someone, who can guide them out of the slump to begin with. With all the big names unavailable and Conte reportedly having refused for the time being, Real have the likes of Laurent Blanc, Belgium manager Roberto Martinez and even former Arsenal coach and out of job Arsene Wenger as well.But, for now, the charges remain with Solari and his first assignment will be versus Spanish second division side Melilla in the Copa del Rey.last_img read more


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first_imgIn a must-win game against India for Bangladesh to inch closer towards the semi-final spot, bowling coach Courtney Walsh said that the team will play according to the pitch condition at Edgbaston.”I think it’s on the day what the surface has to hold and how well we react on the day,” International Cricket Council quoted Courtney Walsh as saying.Bangladesh are currently at the seventh position of the teams standing with seven points. With two games remaining, they will play against India and Pakistan respectively.Walsh stated that Bangladesh will analyse the situation during the match and if there will be any help for the spin bowlers, then they will introduce spinners early to take a wicket. Although in the initial overs he wants seamers to swing the ball and give early breakthrough.”We have to assess what’s going to happen here in Birmingham. If the wicket’s going to turn then it’s best for us to have a spinner bowling earlier as well trying to get an early wicket. But obviously with the new ball if there is going to be any swing or movement, we would want the seamers to use it as well,” Walsh said.Walsh further added that he is preparing his every bowler to bowl with the new ball so he has many options available for the first powerplay. Bangladesh have skipper Mashrafe Mortaza, Mustafizur Rahman, Mohammad Saifuddin, and Rubel Hussain in their bowling attack.”We are just trying to get everybody ready; saying anybody could bowl with the new ball. We have got three seamers playing now and Rubel Hossain played in one of the games before. So, any of those guys could bowl with the new ball because we are trying to get them ready for that,” Walsh added.advertisementBangladesh will play against India on July 2 at Edgbaston in Birmingham.Also Read | World Cup 2019: Pakistan supported India for the first time since partition, says Shoaib AkhtarAlso Read | Sportsmanship of few champions got tested, they failed badly: Waqar Younis slams Team IndiaAlso Seelast_img read more