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Julen Lopetegui: Wolves' preferred candidate to hold talks after being sacked as Sevilla head coach

Former Spain manager Julen Lopetegui, 56, is Wolves' preferred candidate to take over at Molineux; Midlands club sit inside Premier League relegation zone with just one win so far; Sevilla sacked Lopetegui after their 4-1 Champions League home defeat to Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday

Image: Julen Lopetegui is now available after he was sacked by Sevilla

Wolves are expected to hold talks with Julen Lopetegui this weekend, following his sacking as Sevilla head coach.

Lopetegui was dismissed by the Spanish club last night following a 4-1 home defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.

He had become Wolves' preferred candidate to replace Bruno Lage prior to this result however, and despite just one win so far this season leaving Sevilla 17th in La Liga.

Lage himself was sacked by Wolves after a 2-0 defeat at West Ham last weekend left them 18th in the Premier League.

Lopetegui, who has been replaced by former Marseille boss Jorge Sampaoli at Sevilla, is understood to be represented by Jorge Mendes - a close associate of the Wolves ownership who also represents a number of the club's players.

Bruno Lage reacts on the touchline during Wolves' defeat to West Ham
Image: Bruno Lage was sacked after defeat at West Ham

There are other names on Wolves' list of candidates but Lopetegui is understood to top the list and be the first to hold talks with the Midlands club.

The 56-year-old faced the media shortly after being informed of his fate by Sevilla.

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"I have many mixed feelings. It's hard to describe them," he said in his post-match press conference.

"The first thing that comes to my head and my heart is gratitude towards my club, the city, the team's fans, my players - and everybody else who works for Sevilla.

"We've lived through very nice things together and then there is the other sentiment of sadness for leaving a club I love, and I am sure I will get over this situation. Those are my feelings."

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Portuguese football expert Pedro Sepulveda believes agent Jorge Mendes wants to 'continue the Portuguese era' at Wolves following the sacking of Bruno Lage

Wolves have scored only three league goals so far in 2022/23 - despite registering 97 shots - and sit 18th in the Premier League table.

However, the club are not in a hurry to appoint a successor to Lage, with coaches Steve Davis and James Collins set to take charge of Saturday's game at Chelsea.

Lopetegui had been in charge at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan since June 2019, but was increasingly under pressure with Sevilla having won just once in eight league games.

He was linked with the job at Molineux back in 2016, but became manager of the Spanish national team, with whom he spent the best part of the next two years before an ill-fated 14-match spell in charge at Real Madrid.

Sevilla appoint Sampaoli for a second time

Sevilla have named Argentine Sampaoli as their new head coach on a contract until June 2024.

It will be Sampaoli's second stint with the record six-times Europa League winners, who have suffered a poor start to the season, having won only one match in all competitions.

They are 17th in La Liga on five points, a place and a point above the relegation zone - their worst start to a league season since being promoted back to the top-flight in 2001.

The club's board is facing questions from angry fans who had high expectations after Sevilla finished fourth last term having battled with Real Madrid for the title for most of the campaign.

Unhappy with Marseille's transfer activity, Sampaoli left the club in July after leading them to a second-place finish in Ligue 1 and Champions League qualification last season

Podence: Something had to change at Wolves

Wolves attacker Daniel Podence admits "something needed to change" at Molineux after poor performances in training sessions and matches - but he insists the players are also to blame for Lage's departure.

Speaking to Sky Sports News ahead of Wolves' trip to Chelsea on Saturday, Podence led a rallying cry to his team-mates and especially the club's senior players, to put the team back on track.

"It's very sad because it means us as players didn't make a good job as well," Podence said. "We are playing in a good way but we are not winning points or games. It's not just about the boss, it's us as well. It makes us feel bad.

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Wolves winger Daniel Podence says the players felt sad to see head coach Bruno Lage lose his job but admits something needed to change at the club going forward

"At the same point, we needed something new or a different way to do things because players were not doing so good in training sessions or at matches. Something had to change and the club realised the boss had to go.

"We have to accept it and we have to deal with it now with a different [boss]. As players, we have to demand much more from each other.

"It's a mix of everything: the system and the management. Even the players were getting comfortable and we needed something different and now we have it.

"We have been watching a lot of teams sacking their manager and still doing a bad job so I think us as players, we have to think and realise that we have to do so much more."

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Lopetegui is Wolves' preferred candidate for the vacant head coach position at Molineux

Time up for Lage at woeful Wolves

Sky Sports' Adam Bate:

"Thirty-one games into a stint that has ended after 46 of them, Bruno Lage had Wolves seventh in the Premier League table and five points off the Champions League places. Since then his team have disintegrated and he finds himself out of a job.

"One win in 15 games reflects that dramatic decline. It is not just that they are the lowest scorers in the Premier League this season. It is the fact that they have scored fewer goals than Burnley since April - and Burnley were relegated in May.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from West Ham's win against Wolves in the Premier League

"Lage has failed to achieve his goals with a team that does not score them.

"But events in London felt like an ending, a manager who had lost his way. Ruben Neves, Wolves' best player, out of position in defence. The diminutive Daniel Podence up front. Nelson Semedo on the wing. A team not set up to play to their own strengths."

Read Adam Bate's full feature here.

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