Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui admits future in doubt ahead of Champions League clash

Lopetegui's Real Madrid face Viktoria Plzen on Tuesday in a must-win game for the under-fire coach. (AFP)
Updated 22 October 2018
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Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui admits future in doubt ahead of Champions League clash

  • Real Madrid have lost four out their past five matches and have suffered the longest goal drought in their history.
  • Lopetegui admits he may be out of a job before this weekend's El Clasico against arch-rivals Barcelona.

MADRID: Julen Lopetegui has said he will fight to turn Real Madrid’s stuttering season around but could not guarantee he will be in charge for the Clasico against Barcelona on Sunday.

Lopetegui’s future is in doubt just four months after swapping the Spanish national team for Madrid on the eve of the World Cup.

His side face Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League on Tuesday, on the back of five games without a win and having lost all of their last three.

“What I’ve learned about this club is to fight, that is the DNA of this club,” Lopetegui said at a press conference on Monday.

“That’s what we’re going to do, fight, both the players and the coaching staff. We know results haven’t been great but we are going to turn this around. We are going to fight.”

Asked if he knew that he would be in the dug-out when Madrid visit Camp Nou this weekend, Lopetegui said: “I’m here now, that’s all I can say. I am the coach at this moment.

“If you ask me what is going to happen in a month or a year, I can’t tell you. We’re focused on the present.”

Madrid’s poor run has left them seventh in La Liga while defeat to CSKA Moscow in the Champions League last month sees them sitting third in Group G.

Key players have offered their support to Lopetegui. Captain Sergio Ramos has said it would be “crazy” to change coach so early in the season while Marcelo insisted the team was “with him to the death” after Saturday’s loss at home to Levante.

“The players are strong,” Lopetegui said.

“They are champions not by coincidence, but because they are strong.

“They have had bad times and bad moments but they have a lot of strength. They don’t get to be champions by believing everything they hear.”


Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

Updated 21 March 2019
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Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

  • Former Saudi Arabia coach wants to guide the Whites to their first World Cup since 1990.
  • "If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here," Dutchman says of his new job.

LONDON: Bert van Marwijk has told the UAE he only has one thing on his mind: getting them to the 2022 World Cup.
The former Saudi Arabia boss was unveiled as the new coach of the Whites before watching his new team beat his former team 2-1 in a friendly in Abu Dhabi. While he was in the stand rather than the dugout — interim boss Saleem Abdelrahman took charge — he would have liked what he saw as he set himself the challenge of leading the UAE to their first showpiece since 1990.
“I’m here for only one thing, and that’s to qualify for the World Cup,” the Dutchman said.
“It takes a long time and the first thing we have to deal with is the first qualification round. That’s why I’m here.”

Van Marwijk was celebrated after he led the Green Falcons to last year's World Cup before calling it quits. (AFP) 


Van Marwijk guided Saudi Arabia to last year’s World Cup — the Green Falcons’ first appearance at the showpiece for 12 years — during a two-year stint which ended in September 2017 after contractual negotiations broke down. That was one of the key reasons the UAE fought hard for the 66-year-old and while it is never easy getting through Asian qualifying — 46 teams going for just four direct slots at Qatar 2022 — the Dutchman claimed his experience, not least with Saudi Arabia, combined with his knowledge of the UAE, will stand him in good stead.
“The Saudis and the UAE are about the same level. With the Saudis we qualified for Russia, so we will do really everything to go to Qatar in 2022,” Van Marwijk said.
While he is fondly remembered in the Kingdom it is his time as the Netherland coach that really stands out on his managerial resume. Van Marwijk coached the Oranje to within minutes of the World Cup trophy, only an Andres Iniesta extra-time winner preventing him from tasting ultimate glory against Spain in 2010.
So why did he return to the Gulf for another crack at World Cup qualification in a tough, crowded race?
“One of the reasons is the feeling — I have to have the right feeling when I sign a contract,” Van Marwijk said.
“We analyzed the UAE, we played four times against each other with Saudi, so I can see the potential.
“I have had the experience to go to the World Cup twice. The first time we were second in the world, the second time was with Australia (whom he coached last summer) and we were a little bit unlucky — we played very well. So to go to the World Cup for the third time is the goal.”
Van Marwijk is all too aware his task will be a difficult one. The fabled “Golden Generation” of Emirati footballers, spearheaded by Omar Abdulrahman, tried and failed to make it to football’s biggest tournament, and a lot of the next three years work will likely depend on a new generation.
“I heard there were some young talents so I’m anxious to know how good they are,” the Dutchman said.
“That’s the most important thing. If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here.”