Sevilla confirmed the appointment of former Spain and Real Madrid manager Julen Lopetegui on Tuesday, marking the 52-year-old’s return to management for the first time since his disastrous Los Blancos spell that lasted just 10 league matches.
The Sevilla position is open after a sixth-placed finish in La Liga, failing to pip Getafe on head-to-head results after finishing level on points. Pablo Machin was dismissed in mid-March after suffering through a five-match league winless run and Europa League elimination, with Joaquin Caparros installed as caretaker manager through the end of the season.
Lopetegui’s managerial resume is quite the mixed bag. After earning his first job at then-second division Rayo Vallecano – the club where he spent most of his playing career – in 2003, Lopetegui was fired after just 10 matches in a season that ultimately ended in relegation to the Spanish third tier. He then rose through the Spanish youth team ranks, and by 2014 earned another top tier job with Porto where he reached the Champions League quarterfinals but failed to win any silverware in his two years in charge.
The Spaniard then found himself hired by the Spanish national team to replace the legendary Vicente del Bosque in 2016, and he proceeded to win 14 of his 20 games in charge and not losing once, confirming qualification to the 2018 World Cup as one of the favorites alongside Germany. Just days before the start of the tournament, Lopetegui was dismissed in infamous fashion after Real Madrid announced he would take over after the World Cup, a move which the Spanish national team setup felt as betrayal.
Without the opportunity to lead Spain at a major international tournament, Lopetegui completed the awkward transition to Los Blancos where things turned sour quickly amid a five-match winless run culminating in a 5-1 El Clasico defeat that proved his undoing.
The appointment at Sevilla seems like a make-or-break position for Lopetegui, given his managerial tenure appears less than convincing. Should he fail to challenge for a Champions League place or take them deep in the Europa League, it would be hard to imaging Lopetegui receiving interest for another job after yet another club failure.