Premier League • England

Wolves close in on next manager after Spanish sacking, with second candidate nearing alternative English job

Next Man Utd manager; Julen Lopetegui, Europa League winner 2020 after Sevilla beat Inter Milan in final

Wolves are seemingly a step closer to finding their next manager after one of their targets, Julen Lopetegui, lost his job with Sevilla.

Lopetegui has been under pressure in Seville after winning just one of his side’s opening seven matches in La Liga this season. The final straw for them came on Wednesday, when they lost 4-1 to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League group stage.

After that game, Sevilla confirmed they have sacked the former Spain coach. He is set to be imminently replaced by Jorge Sampaoli. The former Argentina boss will be overseeing a second spell at the club.

However, Lopetegui might not be out of work for long. Wolves have not been put off by his recent record and have a vacancy to fill after recently getting rid of Bruno Lage.

Therefore, according to ABC Sevilla on Thursday morning, Lopetegui has already “found a new project”. Although they do not name Wolves specifically, they suggest his next job will be in the Premier League.

Hence, all the signs are pointing to the former Real Madrid manager taking the reins at Molineux. It would be his first experience of managing in the Premier League.

Wolves have won just one of their first eight Premier League games of the season. After struggling for goals under Lage last season, despite some decent performances, there will be a few issues for his successor to fix.

It now seems increasingly likely that it will be Lopetegui’s task to revive Wolves’ fortunes. Their shortlist seems to have been narrowed down and he could be the last candidate standing.

Next Wolves manager alternative heading elsewhere

Indeed, a report on Tuesday suggested that Lopetegui was becoming the favourite already, but that Pedro Martins had also been invited for an interview.

Now, it seems that Martins – most recently in charge of Olympiacos – is on the verge of becoming Hull City head coach instead.

He would be replacing the recently dismissed Shota Arveladze at the Championship club.

With Martins out of contention, it could be a case of all eggs being in the Lopetegui basket for Wolves. Sevilla’s decision to dismiss him should only speed up the process.

Quick return to management for Lopetegui

Lopetegui, a former goalkeeper, began his coaching career in 2003 as the assistant manager for the Spain under-17s team. His next appointment was at club level with Rayo Vallecano.

Between 2008 and 2009, he guided Real Madrid’s B team, before working his way through the ranks with the Spain setup again. He led his country at under-19, under-20 and under-21 level.

In 2014, the opportunity arose to get back into club management. For the first time, he ventured outside Spain, taking on a role with Portuguese outfit Porto.

Two years later, it was back to international management. He was unbeaten in 20 games as Spain’s senior boss, but he didn’t get the chance to lead his country at the 2018 World Cup because of the early announcement of his appointment at Real Madrid.

His stint in the Spanish capital was underwhelming and only lasted a few months. However, Sevilla gave him his next chance in 2019 and it was one he took.

By the end of his first season in charge, the Andalusian side were adding another Europa League trophy to their cabinet. It was the first major club honour of his coaching career.

Ultimately, Lopetegui finished fourth in La Liga in three consecutive seasons with Sevilla. He established them as the next best thing to Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.

Things have taken a turn for the worse this season, though, so now he is ready for a new challenge. Wolves will be hoping he can do better for them than Lage.

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