Real Madrid fires manager Julen Lopetegui after four months

Real Madrid has had two managers in 2018, and they’ll have at least one more.

On Monday, the team announced that manager Julen Lopetegui has been fired, ending his short tenure with the club.

Lopetegui has been with the Real Madrid since June 2018. He took the job — replacing Zinedine Zidane, who stepped down in May after winning the Champions League an unprecedented three years in a row — while he was managing Spain’s national team.

In fact, the team was already in Russia for the World Cup when the move was announced. Spain dismissed him as manager the next day, despite his contract with Real Madrid not starting until the World Cup was over.

Lopetegui’s short time with the club has been less than pleasant. He took over around the time that star Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid for Juventus, but expectations for Lopetegui were clearly higher than the team’s current ninth-place position.

After Real Madrid got destroyed by Barcelona 5-1 on Sunday, rumors started leaking that Lopetegui was going to be replaced.

Rumors have been flying that former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte would replace Lopetegui, but Real Madrid announced that B team captain Santiago Solari would be taking over as interim manager on Tuesday.

The Independent reported that Conte was all set to take over Real Madrid, but a lack of support from key players may have derailed his hiring. Team captain Sergio Ramos in particular wasn’t fond of Conte, who is known as a hard-line disciplinarian. Here’s what Ramos told the Daily Mail:

“Respect is something that is earned not imposed. You know which coaches we have won trophies with.”

Real Madrid won trophies under Zidane and Carlo Ancelotti, who don’t share Conte’s more brutal management style. It may not be guaranteed that Conte is out of the running, but with Solari named as interim manager, it certainly seems a lot less likely.