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Julen Lopetegui: Wolves appoint former Spain and Real Madrid boss as new head coach

Wolves' lengthy managerial hunt concludes as Julen Lopetegui appointed successor to Bruno Lage at Molineux; Lopetegui was sacked by Sevilla in October; Wolves approached Lopetegui last month but the Spaniard rejected the move due to personal reasons

Image: Wolves have appointed former Spain and Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui as the club's new manager

Wolves have appointed former Spain and Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui as the club's new manager.

Lopetegui succeeds Bruno Lage, who was sacked on October 2 after winning just one of his final 15 games in charge.

He will begin work on November 14 when he officially takes charge at Molineux after Wolves' final Premier League game before the World Cup against Arsenal.

Steve Davis remains in interim charge ahead of Saturday's home match against Brighton.

Davis said: "It's a top appointment and someone who we've been trying to get in for a while now. I'm just pleased that they've managed to get the person they wanted a while ago.

"He'll arrive here at the end of next week. He's a great appointment and he's somebody the club needs going forward."

Wolves chairman Jeff Shi said: "Julen is a top coach, with excellent experience at an elite level of the game, and we are very pleased to have agreed a deal to bring him to Wolves.

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"Since the very beginning, Julen has been our number one choice to manage Wolves, and we look forward to welcoming him and his team when they join us in the coming weeks."

Julen Lopetegui - profile
Image: Julen Lopetegui - profile

Lopetegui was sacked by Sevilla at the start of October, two years after guiding the La Liga club to a record sixth Europa League crown in 2020.

Wolves approached Lopetegui last month but the 56-year-old Spaniard rejected the move due to personal reasons, forcing the Midlands club to explore alternative targets.

Queens Park Rangers boss Michael Beale appeared on the verge of filling the vacant manager's position at Molineux until his last-minute commitment to the Championship club sent Wolves back to the drawing board.

Caretaker boss Davis received public backing from chairman Jeff Shi to oversee first-team matters through to the end of the year but, with Wolves languishing in the Premier League relegation zone, efforts to sign Lopetegui were revived.

Davis, Wolves' under-18s coach, took temporary charge of the first team after Lage was sacked at the start of last month, assisted by James Collins and goalkeeping coach Tony Roberts.

Wolves remain in the bottom three after winning only one game since Lage left, against Nottingham Forest, with their only other point under Davis coming in last week's 1-1 draw at Brentford.

'Lopetegui can help change the mentality at Wolves'

Spanish Football expert Alvaro Montero speaking to Sky Sports News:

"Lopetegui is one of the good Spanish coaches after the likes of Pep Guardiola and Unai Emery. We are talking about a very famous coach in Spain, who has a lot of experience with Real Madrid, the Spanish national team and Porto in Portugal.

"He's a good option first of all and mainly because he is an expert coach, and he knows how to play and set up for different types of games.

"At Real Madrid he didn't have a lot of time. He spent only four months there and after that he said he wasn't able work because the club didn't let him do what he wanted.

"However, I think he is going to do well in the Premier League because of his experience.

Sevilla's head coach Julen Lopetegui looks on during the group G Champions League soccer match between Sevilla and Borussia Dortmund at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in Seville, Spain, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Jose Breton)
Image: Lopetegui was sacked by Sevilla at the start of October

"The question about how he might adapt to a relegation battle is a good question because he has coached very good teams in very good moments.

"We are talking about Sevilla, who were Europa League winners, the Spanish national team and Real Madrid, but he hasn't really been in a situation like Wolves find themselves in now.

"But he is a very good coach in the psychological part of the job. Once, Sevilla's director Monchi asked him about the three main virtues and he said Lopetegui's a working man, a great competitor - which Wolves need now - and he's very good at managing groups.

"So, he's arriving at a perfect moment for Wolves, not because of their sporting moment but because psychologically he can change the mentality of the locker room and the group."

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Spanish Football expert Alvaro Montero gives us the lowdown on new Wolverhampton Wanderers boss Julen Lopetegui

What style can Wolves expect from Lopetegui?

More from Montero, speaking to Sky Sports News:

"Apart from when he played 4-2-3-1 at Real Madrid, he is a 4-3-3 lover. He always likes to play with three players in the midfield and a number nine, who is usually the one to draw defenders to leave space out wide for the wingers to attack.

"So, at Wolves, Adama Traore would be well suited for the right wing position under Lopetegui with either Diego Costa or Raul Jimenez as the number nine.

"He is a coach that loves to attack and he loves to have possession of the ball. He believes that attacking, possession football is the one that can have results."

When asked if Lopetegui can improve the situation at Wolves, Montero added: "If you are asking whether he can get Wolves moving up the table, then yes. If you are asking whether Wolves can win titles in the next two or three years, then I'm not sure about that but I believe he can change the mentality and the way they are playing right now."

McCarthy: Lopetegui has great opportunity at Wolves

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Former Wolves manager Mick McCarthy says Julen Lopetegui has all the attributes to do well at Molineux

Former Wolves manager Mick McCarthy speaking to Sky Sports:

"I'm glad they've finally got a manager because there was a lot of talk about it. I was in Wolverhampton this week and that was all the chat this week to me.

"I'm delighted they've got a good manager with a good reputation.

"He's not taking over straight away but they could do with some results in the games prior to him taking over. But it is wonderful for him to join a new club and then have six weeks of training.

"They'll obviously lose some players to the World Cup, but to have the rest of the squad to get your ideas into them and to train them, it's a fabulous opportunity for him and it's great for the club.

"Wolves are getting a great manager with great experience."

Wolves' fixtures before World Cup break

Nov 5: Brighton (h) - Premier League, 3pm

Nov 9: Leeds (h) - Carabao Cup, 7.45pm

Nov 12: Arsenal (h) - Premier League, 7.45pm

Lopetegui's first seven games at Wolves

Dec 26: Everton (a) - Premier League, 3pm

Dec 31: Man Utd (h) - Premier League, 12.30pm

Jan 4: Aston Villa (a) - Premier League, 8pm

Jan 7: TBC - FA Cup third round

Jan 14: West Ham (h) - Premier League, 3pm

Jan 21: Man City (a) - Premier League

Feb 4: Liverpool (h) - Premier League, 3pm

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