If there is a solace in top-level football management it is that you stand to make fantastical amounts of wealth even when you are busy setting fire to your own career.
Julen Lopetegui, the man who seemed on the verge of guiding a magnificent Spanish team to a World Cup in a blaze of thrilling football, is now on the verge of the job he picked instead. Having presided over a run of five games without a win along with the longest goalless run in the club's history, it is assumed that Lopetegui is shuffling about as a dead man walking. Even a 2-1 win against Viktoria Plzen last night did not improve Lopetegui's prospects, as Madrid were roundly whistled and booed by the Bernabeu at full-time.
It is assumed that Lopetegui will stay in charge of Madrid for this weekend's Clasico, which seems like a much less daunting prospect given that Leo Messi will miss the game with a fractured arm.
Nonetheless, nothing other than a convincing Clasico win will save Lopetegui from the chop with Madrid believed to be searching for a successor.
When he does go, however, Lopetegui should at least be able to console himself with wealth. If he is to be fired, Sport are reporting that Madrid will owe him a €18.1 million, given they gave him a contract until 2021 worth around €6million a year.
In terms of successors, Antonio Conte perhaps makes the most sense, given that he is freely available, but does not want to take a short-term offer until the end of the season so as to allow Florentino Perez pursue his main target: Mauricio Pochettino. (Conte is presumably unaware that all Madrid managers are short-term options). One possibility reportedly being considered is the handing of the job to Santi Solari, who is currently in charge of Real Madrid Castilla, on a short-term basis until the end of the season.
Michael Laudrup and Laurent Blanc have also been mentioned.