All of the stories coming out of Madrid at the moment, suggest besieged Real boss Julen Lopetegui could be gone by the end of the week.
The former manager of Spain has led Los Blancos to their worst goal drought since 1985 and has lost five of his thirteen games in charge. The Spanish press has their knifes out and there is already open talk of who his successor could be.
There is an awful lot wrong with the European Champions. The players are reportedly out of shape and and they are out of touch with evergreen leaders Barcelona. They have their lowest points haul at this stage since 2004-5. During that season, two managers were gone by Christmas. Lopetegui’s suitcase should be packed and primed.
This uncertainty at Real is ultimately bad news for the Premier League though. Whenever the axe eventually falls on Lopetegui at The Bernabeu, the aftershocks are likely to be keenly felt by elite English clubs.
Recent history paints an alarming picture of Real’s tentacles extending far and wide whenever they are in crisis and thrown into a spasm to try and quickly fix it. Players they have courted for a while suddenly become “unsettled” at their clubs and money ceases to be an issue.
Liverpool experienced this in 2009. Having watched their bitter rivals romp to an impressive treble in 08/09, Real Madrid began plotting their response. Xabi Alonso was pinched from Anfield for £30 million, and The Reds faltered almost overnight. Ronaldo also left Old Trafford that Summer as Real refused to stand still and watch Barcelona dominate and disappear over the horizon. In 2009, despite half a decade of success and strength in Europe, The Premier League had felt the full impact of Perez’s pulling power.
Since then, Bale and Modric have been extracted from Spurs with relative ease. Chelsea have also felt the sting of losing Thibaut Courtois in August, as Real circled and ultimately swooped for one of their best players.
Sadio Mane and Eden Hazard have also been rumored to be on Madrid’s radar and any managerial uncertainty is only likely to add fuel to the flames of these rumours.
Madrid often come out of any sticky situation shooting from the hip and they ultimately get whomever Florentino Perez wants. Liverpool and Chelsea fans will hope that there is little substance to these unwanted murmurs concerning their star players.
However, in terms of sweating it out in uncertainty, Spurs could well have the biggest reason to fear the chaos engulfing The Bernabeu.
It was widely reported in the summer that Real were keen on Spurs head honcho Mauricio Pochettino. After Zidane’s shock departure in May, it seemed Spurs were braced for an inevitable assault on the Argentine’s services.
There would have been huge relief then in North London when Julen Lopetegui was appointed as the super club’s new manager on the eve of the World Cup. However with the Spaniard presently on the ropes and soon to be counted out, Pochettino could once again be a man in demand.
All reports are in agreement that it would be reserve coach, Santiago Solari, to take charge in the interim should Lopetegui depart. However the rumours linking Real to Pochettino are unlikely to subside.
Its common knowledge that the purse strings are currently tight under Daniel Levy and their financing of a new stadium. Poch could well grow frustrated at a project strangled out by lack of funds and reinforcements. A move to Real may prove irresistible and a logical next step.
Of course it’s all purely speculation at this point. One thing is for certain though, the Premier League elite should be wary of the storm clouds growing at The Bernabeu this autumn.