By sacking Julen Lopetegui barely four months into the job, Real Madrid had simply followed the writing on the wall that had been there for some time — previous reports had said since the 3-0 loss to Sevilla last month — and had started dripping blood by the time the 5-1 El Clasico reverse had transpired. Partly unexpected was their choice to replace him.

They have appointed reserves (Castilla) boss Santiago Solari as interim manager, raising him up to the first-team like they did with Zinedine Zidane in 2016 after the sacking of Rafa Benítez. But wherein Zidane was immediately named full-time manager, Solari retains the interim status.

As per league rules, Real have to appoint a full-time maneger within two weeks.

Increasingly, that manager appears to not be Antonio Conte. The former Chelsea boss was all but ready to go last week according to reports, but now both sides have distanced themselves from that possibility.

Depending on who you believe, that’s either down to the club (and having to deal with Conte’s continuing legal shenanigans with Chelsea), the players (led by Mr. Madrid Sergio Ramos), or Conte himself (not the right project or style).

Today, Sky Sports have joined weekend reports from Italy in claiming that it was Conte himself who pulled the plug, preferring a summer rather than a mid-season appointment, and possibly not at the simmering ego-cauldron that is the Real Madrid dressing room.

Meanwhile, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Conte would actually prefer to take the Manchester United hot seat from José Mourinho.

While Mourinho has staved off his own sacking for at least a few more weeks, he might not survive the season still, even if his sacking would be an expensive choice (upwards of a £30m payoff?) for the Glazers to make.

Mourinho’s also been linked with a return to Real Madrid, as unlikely as that may sound.

Either way, Conte’s happy to wait for the right opportunity.