Julen Lopetegui may no longer be Real Madrid manager, but he still has an admirer at the Santiago Bernabeu in the form of full-back Dani Carvajal.
Lopetegui was sacked just four months into the Real Madrid job the day after he oversaw a 5-1 defeat at the hands of Barcelona in El Clasico, but Carvajal is still loyal to his former mentor.
He told TVE (h/t Mundo Deportivo, via Football Espana):
"Lopetegui is the best coach I've ever had. Unfortunately he has not had that bit of luck with us.
"His way of seeing football, his way of managing the squad, his way of being with the players, I share these ideas.
"I have an idea of watching football and I said it before Lopetegui was appointed the coach of Real Madrid and I will say it again now that he is no longer with us."
Carvajal's is quite the statement considering he can count Carlo Ancelotti, Rafael Benitez, Zinedine Zidane and Vicente del Bosque among the other managers he has worked with.
All four have won multiple league titles as well as the UEFA Champions League at least once—Zidane winning each of the last three with Carvajal in Madrid—while Del Bosque has also won the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championship.
Lopetegui managed just 14 matches for Los Blancos, winning only six and losing just as many.
SB Nation's Lucas Navarrete put the responsibility with the powers that be in Madrid rather than the manager:
The decision to let Cristiano Ronaldo—who averaged 50 goals a season during his nine years with Real—leave the club for Juventus and to replace him only with Mariano Diaz immediately left Lopetegui with an enormous task on his hands.
Diaz netted 21 goals for Lyon last season, but that was only his second campaign of regular top-flight senior football.
ESPN's David Cartlidge believes Lopetegui also made mistakes in his management of Real, though:
Carvajal came up through Spain's youth sides under Lopetegui before playing under him for La Roja's senior side.
Given the 26-year-old has worked with some storied coaches during his career, it says a lot that he holds Lopetegui in such high regard.
Unfortunately for the coach, this year could scarcely have gone worse for him. His acceptance of the Madrid job led to his sacking from Spain on the eve of the FIFA World Cup in June, and his subsequent failure with Real will only make that sting even more.
Lopetegui's reputation as a coach will likely earn him more opportunities in the future, but it will take time to rebuild it after a disastrous few months. If he's to have a chance of taking another big job at some point down the line, he has a lot of work to do.