Julen Lopetegui: I cried when I left Wolves
Julen Lopetegui has opened up on his emotional exit from Wolves just days before the Premier League season began.
The Spaniard departed in the week leading up to the opening game of the campaign due to a disagreement over spending, with Wolves under financial constraints and selling a number of their assets.
After taking the club from bottom of the Premier League to 13th when he joined in November last year, Lopetegui was popular among supporters and has now spoken of the difficult decision to walk away.
“When we started pre-season, they told me that it’s impossible to develop this project, and we decided to part ways," Lopetegui told The Athletic.
"I love all the workers, all the players and, above all, the fans — they have an incredible warmth towards me. I still live there, so I feel that.
"And I wish the best to the owners, to Gary O’Neil, to Matt Hobbs, to Matt Wild, and to all the players. I am always going to be a little wolf.
“It was not easy for me. It was a pity. I remember a lot of workers, and us too, we were crying. The environment and the commitment that we have created at Wolves in a short time is not normal. And I remember this with a big, heavy heart. This was special.”
After his departure, a number of supporters felt Lopetegui had jumped ship during a tough period, when he could have waited it out.
The former boss added: “I am not afraid about losing, or making sacrifices, because in football you never have guarantees of anything. But I came here with this project. Now you have a new project, for different reasons, and you have to know what’s my opinion about this. You go in one direction, me in one other direction. So, all the best. It’s a big pity but the more honest thing is to address it early, because it’s better this way than to start without being convinced by the project.”
Lopetegui has stayed in Midlands and is currently waiting for another opportunity in the Premier League, after turning down clubs in France, Spain and Saudi Arabia.
He said: “It is important for me to believe. And after that, the project has to be real. Sometimes, the project might be that you are going to stay up, like we did last season. Sometimes you are fighting for Europe, or for a title, it depends on the club.
"I have managed different projects. I have fought for league titles. I have coached the national Spanish team. I put Sevilla, for the first time in their history, three times in the top four of La Liga.
“So you ask me what kind of project, and all coaches want good players, but sometimes you can have good players, but maybe you don’t have the conditions.
“In football, there are a lot of intangibles, about the energy of the clubs, about the energy of the workers. It’s very important to put everyone in the same direction, because the energy of the chef or the medical team or the physiotherapist is also important. So, it is not only about the energy of the players. I repeat — it’s the energy of the club.”