Real Madrid axe swinging over Julen Lopetegui as crisis deepens with Levante defeat

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After the embarrassing 2-1 defeat to Levante at the Bernabeu, the final whistle was followed immediately by prolonged whistles from those angry supporters still left inside the half-empty stadium and traditional white handkerchief protest calling for the sacking of coach Julen Lopetegui.

Lopetegui has lost five games in all competitions since taking over this summer -- including the past three in a row -- and has presided over the club's second-worst goal drought of 481 minutes, broken only by Marcelo's consolation vs. Levante following Jose Luis Morales' opener and a penalty from Roger nfl jerseys cheap paypal

At the postmatch news conference, the former Spain coach reached for the excuse of bad luck when trying to explain his team's poor form.3

"We had 34 or 35 shots at goal, 14 on target, 9 corners, 4 balls off the woodwork, a goal disallowed," Lopetegui claimed, padding the numbers just a little. "Statistics do not count much in football, it is goals that count. But we attacked a lot, and attacked very well. I am sure that football will soon start giving to us what it is taking away at the moment."

Another stat doing the rounds was that five of the past six Madrid coaches to lose three consecutive games were fired -- with Bernd Schuster only avoiding that fate as his team eased off having secured the 2007-08 La Liga title.

After the game, Madrid's director of institutional relations Emilio Butragueno was asked if Lopetegui's job was safe and somewhat avoided the question, saying: "We are all feeling down, these are sad moments. This is a blow; we did not expect this result. We must congratulate Levante, who played well. There must be calm. We all need to try and remain calm. We are sad."

Butragueno also declined to give an opinion on Lopetegui's decision not to risk Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema in the starting XI after their recent injuries. "These are technical questions and choices that are Julen's to make," he said, diplomatically. "We should not get into that."cheap nike nfl jerseys china

There were reports that president Florentino Perez had gone down to the dressing room to spend some time talking with Lopetegui one-on-one after the game -- a conversation that was still ongoing when vice-captain Marcelo came through the mixed zone.

"We are with [Lopetegui] to the death," said Marcelo, reaching for an unfortunate Spanish phrase often used on these occasions. "He is very clear with us and the relationship is very good with the players. We must let the boss work.

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