Florentino gave Lopetegui a ticking off before Alavés loss
The president met with Lopetegui before the loss to Alavés at the weekend to clarify what was expected of him and to ensure they are on the same page.
It happened before the defeat at Mendizorroza. Florentino had dinner with Julen Lopetegui after the loss on Wednesday to CSKA Moscow at the Luzhniki to clarify a few things and so the manager was sure of what was expected of him. The president called the manager to have a word in his ear after Real Madrid's recent unimpressive run of form and more than the results, it's the atmosphere in the dressing room that Perez wanted to address. "You can't cover the sun with one finger," said Keylor Navas when asked about Cristiano Ronaldo after the Moscow defeat. The president does not like to hear Ronaldo's name mentioned after every loss and he believes it is up to the coach to execute the club's plan to ensure this isn't the case. He wanted to make sure Lopetegui was clear on his role as the club's figurehead.
Issues with Lopetegui's pre-game routine and rotation
Navas' comments are just the tip of the iceberg. Sergio Ramos did not travel to Russia and Modric did not start either. Meanwhile, Thibaut Courtois, Perez' most recent galactico signing, is being rotated out for the Champions League. Florentino does not understand these selective rotations and another issue he has is Lopetegui's insistence on breaking the tradition of not meeting as a group the day before a game as he tinkers with the pre-game plan. It was Jose Mourinho who set the stall when it came to this and he was very particular in this respect. With Ancelotti, after winning the 10th Champions League, Perez was willing to let the manager decide, and after his sacking, he brought in Rafa Benitez to take back control of the dressing room. That ended in another sacking until Zidane came in to reestablish the balance.
Now, between the difficulties that Lopetegui finds himself in on the field and off the field, Perez decided to act to make sure he wouldn't have to make another drastic decision. The fact that there is no obvious substitute doesn't help but Xabi Alonso and Raul Gonzalez could be seen as emergency solutions if necessary. They are currently managing at La Fábrica having arrived in the summer but that would not be an ideal situation either. Lopetegui was asked in the summer about the signings and the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo and he said, "the club and I are in full harmony." Perez wanted to make sure this was still the case.
The big game on Lopetegui's calender is Barcelona at the Camp Nou. He has been offered a warning by Real Madrid, which is something Rafa Benitez was not afforded.