'Lopetegui the best coach I've ever had' - Carvajal backs sacked Real Madrid boss
Julen Lopetegui saw his Real Madrid reign plumb new depths during a 5-1 Clasico defeat to Barcelona, but he retains full faith in his ability to turn things around.
The beleaguered Blancos boss was already facing plenty of uncomfortable questions regarding his future before heading to Camp Nou on Sunday.
Calls for him to be removed from his post have mounted in intensity following a humbling reversal against old adversaries.
Real now find themselves sat ninth in the Liga table having suffered three successive setbacks in the Spanish top flight.
That record has Lopetegui on the brink, but he hopes he will be given the opportunity to guide Madrid out of a sorry slump.
He told reporters after a forgettable display in Catalunya: “I feel sad at the moment, but with full strength to remain in charge of this group.
“This is a tough blow, but I am strong enough to know everything can be turned around. There is a long way to go, and I have a lot of faith in this group of players.”
Lopetegui accepts that he will ultimately shoulder the responsibility for results in Madrid and that his record since succeeding Zinedine Zidane is not the best.
He is, however, convinced that the 2018-19 campaign can still be salvaged.
“We all know how the world of football works, and the final responsibility lies with the coach. I am not stupid,” Lopetegui added.
“But here we win together, and lose together. But I still believe we are in an [early] stage of the season, and Madrid this year will celebrate.”
The Blancos started the 2017-18 season slowly, but recovered to claim a third successive Champions League crown.
Lopetegui may not be given the chance to oversee a similar reversal in fortune, with the likes of Antonio Conte being heavily linked with a post he has only occupied for a matter of months.
He accepted an offer from Madrid while preparing Spain for the 2018 World Cup, with the decision taken to remove him from that role before the action got underway in Russia.
The 52-year-old may be about to be ushered towards another exit, with Real aware that they cannot afford for their current wobble to last much longer.