Lopetegui ‘deserved to continue’


Former Spain manager Lopetegui praised by Niguez

The Atletico midfielder Saul Niguez believes Spain’s ex-manager Julen Lopetegui should have been given the opportunity to lead the nation in the World Cup.  Lopetegui was relieved of his duties as head coach of the Spanish national team just two days before the opening of the World Cup.

Lopetegui was dismissed after he failed to notify the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) of his negotiations to become Real Madrid’s next Coach in good time. The Royal Spanish Football Federation acted swiftly in relieving him of his managerial duties as a result of the manager failing to notify them of his decision, but Saul feels the 51-year-old should have been allowed to stay on.

Saul believes Lopetegui “deserved to continue” as coach for the World Cup, having secured qualification to Russia in unbeaten fashion.

“It was surprising,” the Atletico Madrid midfielder told TVE.

“I think that even though there will have been reasons and motives, while us players weren’t drawn into it as it wasn’t the right time, Julen deserved to continue after having spent two years preparing for the World Cup with us.

“I didn’t like what happened with Lopetegui. It’s a decision to be respected, but we had a great project with him.

“It was Rubiales’ decision to sack him and you have to understand it, although a lot of why we’re here is thanks to Julen.

“Starting place? It’s a compliment that people think I should come into the XI but the team need all 23 players. I have to wait for my chance and take it.

“Griezmann staying at Atleti? We’re happy that he’s staying. It was long-awaited news for Atletico, plus it’s a joy for everyone on a personal level.”

Spain face Russia next on Sunday. See the latest World Cup predictions here


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