Wolves have announced the departure of manager Julen Lopetegui, less than a year after his appointment and just days before their latest Premier League campaign gets underway.
Wolverhampton Wanderers have announced the departure of Julen Lopetegui, with Gary O’Neil the favourite to swiftly replace him in the Molineux dugout.
A statement from the club read: “Wolves and Julen Lopetegui have reached an agreement to part ways, ending the Spaniard’s nine-month reign as head coach at the club. Lopetegui joined Wolves in November and successfully guided the club to Premier League safety, however, the head coach and club acknowledged and accepted their differences of opinion on certain issues and agreed that an amicable end to his contract was the best solution for all parties.
“Talks have been ongoing in recent weeks, held with the utmost respect and cordiality, affording the club time and space to begin work on finding a successor, while also ensuring that Julen and his backroom staff could continue their planned preparation to ensure the playing squad would be in the best possible condition for the start of the Premier League season.”
Lopetegui was hired – after a six-year courtship – before last winter’s World Cup break, taking over with Wolves rock bottom of the Premier League. However, under the Spaniard’s leadership they comfortably survived, ending the campaign in 13th place.
But any semblance of positivity was quickly eroded with Lopetegui accusing the club’s owners of misleading him regarding their financial situation. Wolves spent big last summer- and then again in January, in order to fend off relegation.
Lopetegui suggested he had been left in the dark over the extent of their issues, with his hopes of evolving the squad dashed. He then publicly voiced his displeasure at the situation, before doubling down during pre-season.
Lopetegui said: “I wish Wolves and everybody at the club the very best of luck for the future, and thank them for the opportunity granted at the time to take charge of this wonderful club. It has been an honour to enjoy this adventure in the day-to-day company of Matt Hobbs, Matt Wild, head of player care Lisa Hollis and every single employee of the club; whom I wish to thank for their support and help at every moment.
“Also, of course, I want to thank the players, who have always given the maximum to achieve our objectives, and especially the fans that made me feel like one of them from the very first moment and have always been amazing to me, my staff and my family.”
Sporting Director Matt Hobbs had looked to quell speculation by suggesting the ex-Spain coach remained committed to the project. He said: “I was never in any doubt that he would remain at Wolves, but we have to acknowledge the project is different to what he thought it was. We had to allow him time to understand it and get his head around how to build a squad to be competitive in the Premier League.”
However, Lopetegui subsequently claimed that the club’s plan B – which was to sign players in the £8m to £15m range – had also been shelved. With less than a week before they travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United, Matt Doherty and third-choice keeper Tom King are the only new arrivals – both signed as free transfers.
That’s despite Wolves boosting their coffers to the tune of almost £100m through the sales of players like Ruben Neves, Nathan Collins and Raul Jimenez. The wage bill has also been dramatically slashed after the departures of Adama Traore, Joao Moutinho and Diego Costa all leaving at the end of their respective deals -Mirror