Real Madrid Were Ready To Sack Lopetegui On Tuesday

Perez Talked Into Reprieve

Julen Lopetegui Real Madrid
Image: Cyril Venediktov

Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui has won a reprieve to at least Sunday.

The under-fire manager was given three matches to save his job last week last following a poor start to the season. But the first of those three ended in a 2-1 home defeat to Levante last Saturday a result that saw Real slip to seventh place in La Liga.

Real defeated Viktoria Plzen 2-1 in a Champions League clash on Tuesday night to ease the pressure a little on Lopetegui. But the side travel to the Nou Camp on Sunday for the ‘El Clasico’ clash with Barcelona. Defeat will see Los Blancos fall seven points behind their arch-rivals.

But according to the Spanish newspaper El Confidencial, Lopetegui very nearly received the bullet straight after the Plzen game.

Real Madrid club president Florentino Perez left his balcony before the end and was ready to go down and sack Lopetegui immediately after the match ended. However, he was met by Real general director Jose Angel Sanchez and one other member of the club’s hierarchy. The pair calmed Perez down and persuaded him not to sack Lopetegui until at least after Sunday’s match with Barca.

Angel’s opinion is one of the few people at the Bernabeu respected by Perez and he agreed to wait until at least Sunday. Angel managed to convince the Real supremo that appointing a successor wouldn’t be straightforward and to wait a few more games. But the coach is a dead man walking.

At present, former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte and Real’s B team coach Santi Solari are the favourites to succeed Lopetegui. But Real would have to pay £9million in compensation to Chelsea under the terms of Conte’s departure. Solari’s experience is limited to Real’s second string – but so was Zinedine Zidane’s before he was appointed head coach in January 2016.