The former Spain national team coach was sacked after Real Madrid’s humiliating 5-1 defeat to bitter rivals Barcelona in their El Clasico clash at the Camp Nou, a match where Luis Suarez scored a hat-trick
The season’s first Clasico clash was Real Madrid’s fifth defeat in seven matches in all competitions and ended up being the final straw as Lopetegui was handed his papers after just 14 games in charge. Since the 52-year-old’s departure, Real Madrid have somewhat been able to steady the ship, with former player and Castilla coach Santiago Solari taking over the reins on a temporary basis and so far overseeing victories over UD Melilla in the Copa del Rey and Valladolid in the league over the weekend.
Lopetegui’s star-studded squad might have struggled to perform on-field, but they continued to publicly back him until he was asked to relinquish his duties. And now, defender Dani Carvajal has stated that Lopetegui is the best manager he has worked under, which has raised a few eyebrows among the Real Madrid fanbase. For me, he’s been the best coach I’ve ever had, unfortunately he lacked that hint of fortune to continue with us,” the right-back told reporters (via Marca).
“His way of seeing football, his way of managing the group, of being with the players, is something I share. I said it before he was Real Madrid coach and I’ll say it again now that he’s gone.”
Dani carvajal that's exactly the reason Lopetegui got fired after 14 games he made you guys believe loosing was OK went Zidane gave you guys 3 UEFA Champions League in the row now no one is even scare to face MADRID at the bernabeau https://t.co/SpsMv9NG60
— Steph (@stephbass55) November 6, 2018
Fans took to social media to express their absolute bemusement at Carvajal’s comments, who added in an interview with TVE: “We’re not going through a good moment, that’s clear, but we also struggled at the start of previous year and ended up winning a third successive Champions League, which is something historic.”
Just last week, Toni Kroos had described Lopetegui as a “great coach” and a “great person” in a tribute on social media. Spain international Carvajal, out of the picture for now with a calf injury, made these comments during an interview with Spanish state broadcaster TVE. For the uninitiated, Lopetegui was sacked from his role at Real Madrid in October, just four months after succeeding Zinedine Zidane.
In modern football, where player power often trumps the manager’s ideas and actions, it is nice to see a player of a high-profile club stick by his sacked manager, whatever may have been the backstage issues and bad results on-field. Managers and footballers are also human beings, and god knows how Lopetegui is taking this whole episode, which if included with his sacking as Spain national team coach on the eve of the World Cup in Russia in June, must be the worst five months for anyone from the sports field.