Amongst all the rumours, discussions and predictions it fell to one of Real Madrid’s quieter players to clarify the situation in the dressing room over the speculation about coach Julen Lopetegui.
As reported on AS, Nacho emphasised what most - if not all - of the players are thinking.
“It’s not my decision,” he said about whether Lopetegui should and will keep his job. ”The only thing that I want, as a player of his, is to win on Sunday and I want to win so that Julen continues. The blame is on everyone because we are a team.”
”We can’t be thinking about what we read in the press,” he said. “We have to keep working.”
Those few sentences sum up what many are feeling. Players want and need stability; and the current focus on the coach can’t be helping matters behind the scenes.
In the build-up to the Clásico clear heads are needed and emotions have to be put to one side. The media are having the time of their lives at the moment and it seems that all kinds of rumours are being promulgated about the future of Julen Lopetegui.
Questions about how the team are playing or how many are currently on the injured list and unavailable for Sunday are currently taking second place to whether the president will change the coach.
The latest stories are about Guti returning to the Bernabéu as head coach if Julen goes. All headline-grabbing stuff of course, but the version supplied by Beşiktaş president Fikret Orman assures us that no such approach has actually been made.
Like his relationship with Real and Florentino Pérez, Guti has a strong relationship with the Turkish club. Fans there have been wearing shirts with ‘Guti Haz’ on the back long after he left in 2011.
When he returned to Istanbul earlier this year in his present coaching role, his appointment was a popular choice.
He’s never made any secret of fact that he would love the chance to be managing Madrid; and if that opportunity comes then does come then the president of the Turkish club has admitted that they wouldn’t stand in his way.
However, Guti has also stated that he’d love the chance to take the reins fully at Beşiktaş!
Whether he would return to Madrid at the present time is anyone’s guess; but clearly it’s not set in stone (at the moment anyway) that this is something that will happen in the immediate future.
When Julen Lopetegui took the Madrid job in the summer he knew full well what he was getting into. Similarly, the players knew full that they were getting a first class coach; with whom many of them had worked before.
But as they have pointed out over and over again in the past few days, weeks and no doubt will do so again today, they don’t get to make that decision over the future of the coach.
Yet the players just keep going. Training will continue as usual leading up Sunday and there will always be fitness checks, niggles and unexpected knocks to deal with before the sessions actually get started.
All the time they’ll be talking about the Barça game and discussing what’s being said outside of Valdebebas.
We know it’s fashionable to Madrid-bash at any time and the players too are getting some flak right now from the media. The incident involving Sergio Ramos and Sergio Reguilón in the handball game is a perfect example.
This provided yet another excuse to publish even more negative publicity for Sergio; as if there hasn’t been enough of that since the Champions League Final.
It doesn’t help either that confidence appears to be low at the moment. The team needs a boost and maybe the Camp Nou would be an unexpected place to get it.
Normally Real Madrid would go there full of realistic expectations to come away with a result. Yet the public portrayal at the present time suggests anything but.
Before Nacho spoke with the common sense that reflects the players’ approach as a group to the Clásico, Isco stepped up the mark to answer questions along with the coach the other day and gave a good interview.
It’s clear the players are behind Julen Lopetegui. And there’s something about the whole situation that says we shouldn’t write him off just yet.