Unsurprisingly, it looks like Sunday’s 5-1 defeat to Barcelona will prove to be the final nail in Julen Lopetegui’s methaphorical Real Madrid coffin.
Real tumbled back down to ninth in the La Liga table (though they are only seven points off the summit) leaving the world and his dog to surmise that the subsequent board meeting called for 7pm (local time) on Monday evening will see Lopetegui removed from his post.
Indeed, El Pais are reporting that Los Blancos already have a replacement primed having “chosen” ex-Chelsea boss Antonio Conte as the coach they believe will deliver them from mediocrity with immediate effect.
According to the august Spanish publication mentioned afore, Real president Florentino Perez has been “urgently negotiating” with Conte’s camp ever since the final whistle sounded at Camp Nou.t
Club officials hope to close Conte’s contract on Monday to present it on Tuesday.
It’s also mentioned that Santiago Solari, former Real player and current coach of their Castilla youth team, is likely to take interim charge of the seniors for Wednesday’s Copa del Rey fixture against third-tier minnows Melilla.
Apparently Jose Mourinho was Uncle Flo’s first choice, but the very thought of retaining Lopetegui’s services until the Manchester United manager became available was deemed by club strategists to be “scandalous”, especially in the wake of the Barca result.
As such, Conte has been identified as the best available option, representing the kind of disciplined “sergeant” that the Real team need to whip them back into some kind of shape.
He is methodical, hardworking, scientifically minded. The kind of character whose degree of sophistication stands him apart from the rest of the coaches.
It’s true. With proper backing, you get the feeling Conte could usher in a new dawn of functional flair at the Bernabeu – before it all goes haywire amid a sea of exhaustion and sapped morale in a season or two.
Boom and bust. Boom and bust. It’s the Real Madrid way.