Real Madrid have sacked Julen Lopetegui after just four months in charge, with the ex-Spain coach paying the price following Sunday’s 5-1 humiliation against Barcelona in El Clasico.
Lopetegui, 52, was announced as Madrid coach just before the start of the World Cup in June, with Spanish federation president Luis Rubiales reacting by immediately sacking him. His first game in charge of Madrid was a 4-2 defeat to neighbours Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup. Lopetegui lasted just 14 matches in total, with six wins, two draws and six defeats. Former player and Castilla reserve team boss Santiago Solari has been put in caretaker charge, the club said.
A club statement read: “Real Madrid’s board met today on 29 Oct 2018 and has agreed to end the contract linking coach Julen Lopetegui with the club. This decision has been taken to change the dynamic in which the first team finds itself, when all the objectives for the season are still achievable.
“The board understands that there is a big difference between the quality of Real Madrid’s squad, which has eight players nominated for the next Ballon D’Or, something without precedent in the history of the club, and the results obtained to date. The club thanks Julen Lopetegui and all his staff for their effort and the work done, and wishes them all the best in their professional careers.”
In a statement to Spanish news agency EFE, Lopetegui said: “After the decision adopted by the board of directors of Real Madrid today, I want to thank the club for the opportunity that gave me to coach the team.
“Thanks to the players for their effort and their work, as well as to each and every one of the club’s employees, for the great treatment during my time with the club. And, of course, my gratitude to the fans for their encouragement. Best wishes for the remainder of the season.”
Sunday’s embarrassing defeat to Barcelona was the end for Lopetegui following a run of dire form, including a 3-0 La Liga reverse at Sevilla, a 1-0 loss at CSKA Moscow in the Champions League and a 2-1 defeat at home to Levante in La Liga. Lopetegui took Madrid training behind closed doors on Monday amid strong rumours he would be sacked and Madrid then confirmed his departure later that day.