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Real Madrid president Florentino Perez reportedly had dinner with Julen Lopetegui before the club’s 1-0 defeat to Alaves on Saturday where he sought to “clarify what was expected” of the manager.
According to AS‘ J.L. Guerrero, Perez is concerned by the club’s results and the atmosphere among the players, and he has also questioned Lopetegui’s rotation policy.
The Spaniard is hoping his intervention will ensure he does not “have to make another drastic decision” at the Santiago Bernabeu, as he did in 2016 when he fired Rafa Benitez, who did not have the benefit of such a meeting before he was relieved of his duties.
The meeting came after Real were defeated 1-0 by CSKA Moscow in the UEFA Champions League last week, but Los Blancos lost by the same scoreline on Saturday.
Real have been in poor form of late. They’re winless in their last four matches and have won just one of their last five in La Liga, which was a 1-0 win against Espanyol on September 22.
The Espanyol win was also the last time they scored:
B/R Football @brfootball
As ESPN’s Dermot Corrigan noted, such a run is not unprecedented but had grave consequences for the man in charge last time it happened:
Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan
Last time Madrid went four games without scoring was April 1985 – before any of the current squad was born. Coach Amancio was immediately fired.
Madrid are fortunate that rivals Barcelona have been similarly struggling, and the Blaugrana are just one point ahead after eight matches when there could have been a significant gap.
Real meet Barca for the first time this season on October 28, following matches with Levante and Viktoria Plzen.
According to AS, that match could prove decisive for Lopetegui, but Marca‘s Jason Pettigrove believes it’s too early to consider pulling the trigger on the Spaniard:
Jason Pettigrove @jasonpettigrove
Even Rafa had a superior record going into a fateful Clasico (albeit two weeks later in the season), and look how that turned out. Baffling that sacking Lopetegui is even a consideration https://t.co/mZpUQ5OdfX
Lopetegui may be fortunate given his rivals’ recent results, but he should be given time to rectify the situation.
Following Zinedine Zidane—who delivered three consecutive Champions League titles—was always going to be a near-impossible act to follow, and Lopetegui’s task has been made even harder as he is having to do it without Cristiano Ronaldo after he was sold to Juventus in the summer.
Madrid are in transition, and while results have not been good enough, changing the man in charge is not necessarily the answer.