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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

Julen Lopetegui grateful to players, staff and fans for support during brief Real Madrid spell

Former Spain manager sacked by European champions after 14 games in charge

Julen Lopetegui's last game as Real Madrid manager was Sunday's 5-1 defeat to rivals Barcelona. AFP
Julen Lopetegui's last game as Real Madrid manager was Sunday's 5-1 defeat to rivals Barcelona. AFP

Former Real Madrid manager Julen Lopetegui has thanked the players, staff and fans of the Spanish club after getting sacked just four months into the job.

Madrid announced on Monday evening that Lopetegui had left his role, the day after Madrid were thrashed 5-1 by fierce rivals Barcelona at Camp Nou.

That defeat was Madrid's fourth from their opening 10 La Liga games, leaving the reigning European champions down in ninth place, seven points behind leaders Barca.

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Lopetegui's dismissal compounds a difficult few months for the Spaniard, who was sacked by the Spain national team on the eve of the World Cup after agreeing to become Madrid manager - where he lasted just 14 competitive games.

Despite the nature of his exit, Lopetegui took the time to release a brief statement to thank the club for the "opportunity".

"After the decision taken by the Real Madrid board of directors, I want to thank the club for the opportunity they gave me," he said in a statement provided to EFE.

"Thank you to the players for their effort and their work, as well as to each and every one of the club's employees, for their good treatment during this time.

"And, of course my gratitude to the fans for their backing. I send them my best wishes for the rest of the season."

Lopetegui has been succeeded by Santiago Solari, coach of Madrid's reserve team Castilla, on a temporary basis, until a full-time manager is appointed.

Solari took charge of his first training session with the senior squad on Tuesday ahead of their Copa del Rey tie against Melilla on Wednesday. Here are a selection of photos from that training session: