Real Madrid looked to have established a winning dynasty that would last long enough with a 45 year old Zinedine Zidane as manager and with young players like Lucas Vasquez and Asensio coming through the ranks and getting much playing time.
Zidane’s shock departure as Real Madrid Manager has further added more crevices to the Real Madrid Issues.
Madrid never arrived. Arch rivals Barcelona have won the Spanish League 7 times in the last decade.
Madrid finished 3rd in the 2017/2018 La Liga Season a distant third behind Barcelona and Atletico Madrid and were disappointing in the Spanish Copa Del Rey.
Lopetegui’s appointment is not one that necessarily excites the Real Madrid faithfuls.
Adekanye Opeoluwa quickly examines the task before the “relatively unkown” Julen Lopetegui:
(1) Ageing Squad: The core of Real Madrid’s players that won the Champions League against Liverpool on May 26th are in their 30’s.
From best player Cristiano Ronaldo to Karim Benzema to Modric and many more.
That of Ronaldo meant Zidane had to be resting the club’s best player.
The club is ready to splash the cash on Neymar or an Eden Hazard.
Were Real Madrid to pull off a deal for Neymar or Hazard. It’s hard to see the club splash the cash needed for other replacements.
Lopetegui has no choice but to work with an ageing squad. How far can he go?
(2) Ronaldo/Bale contract situation: Real Madrid are in a limbo as to whether they should let go of Gareth Bale or not.
Bought for a then World record fee from Tottenham Hotspur for 86 Million pounds, injuries have affected the Welshman a lot.
He has delivered when fit even netting a brace in the Champions League final against Liverpool and now it is reported that he is stalling on a new contract.
Bale has proved pivotal to Real Madrid and Lopetegui as new manager must quickly step into the issue and decide if he wants to keep or sell Bale.
Ronaldo always grabs the headline. At over 30, Lopetegui has to decide on whether to push harder on a new contract for Ronaldo or not.
Managing the ego of Ronaldo is another thing.
To keep Bale and Ronaldo or to let go of one?
Lopetegui also has the task to keep some Real Madrid players happy most notably Isco.
(3) Who is Lopetegui? : Julen Lopetegui comes as a relatively unknown manager.
Even as Head Coach of the Spanish National team, he remains relatively unknown.
He does not have an intimidating CV either as a footballer or as a coach.
His name does not send waves of fear across Madrid not to talk of Spain.
Lopetegui becomes arguably the most unpopular Real Madrid coach in the last Decade.
Zidane was a 3 time World Footballer of the year, he was assistant Manager to Carlo Ancelotti when the Club won La Decima.
It was easy for the Real Madrid players to respect Zidane.
Ancelotti, Benitez, Jose Mourinho were all known before appointment, but who is Lopetegui?
Perhaps who Lopetegui himself is is a major task for the new Real Madrid coach.
A way to announce himself is in Russia as coach of Spain where a lot is expected from him.
Spain have been on the downturn in international competitions fumbling at the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016.
Success with Spain at the 2018 World Cup will help Lopetegui’s course and pave an easy way for him as Real Madrid coach.