Spain’s annual coaches cull

June 13, 2011

In our latest post on Spanish soccer, Mark Elkington in Madrid discusses Spain’s coaching musical chairs, looks at this week’s second-division promotion playoff between Elche and Granada and quotes a succinct summing up of the situation in La Liga given by Levante president Francisco Catalan.

Spain´s annual coaches cull

Spain´s young unemployed, known as ”los indignados” (the indignant) have occupied the squares of the country´s major cities recently to demonstrate against the government´s welfare cuts and a lack of opportunities.

Unemployment was more than twice the European average at 21.3 percent in the first quarter and the second quarter will not have been helped by the annual end-of-season cull of La Liga coaches.

Last week, five clubs opted for new faces to head their campaigns next year, while two more positions remain vacant, at Athletic Bilbao and Racing Santander. The league´s 20th club awaits the outcome of the second division play-offs.

Bilbao’s Joaquin Caparros will have to wait and see who wins the club’s presidential election next month to see whether he will be offered a new deal after four years at the helm.

Further along the north coast, Racing’s post is still vacant after the exit of Marcelino to Sevilla.

Marcelino was unveiled at the Sanchez Pizjuan, Atletico Madrid brought back Gregorio Manzano, Getafe presented Luis Garcia, Levante went for Juan Ignacio Martinez and Real Sociedad paraded Filippe Montanier.

Of the 17 incumbents only nine were in place at the start of last season. Go back to the beginning of the 2009-10 campaign and only five were in their current jobs.

Patience has never been a virtue when it comes to coaches in Spain and Sporting Gijon´s gruff and combative Manuel Preciado is La Liga´s longest-serving survivor.

5 years Manuel Preciado Sporting Gijon 53 Spanish
3 years Pep Guardiola Barcelona 40 Spanish
3 years Unai Emery Valencia 39 Spanish
2.5 years Mauricio Pochettino Espanyol 39 Argentine
1.5 years Juan Carlos Garrido Villarreal 42 Spanish
1 year Jose Mourinho Real Madrid 48 Portuguese
1 year Michael Laudrup Real Mallorca 46 Danish
1 year Pepe Mel Real Betis 48 Spanish
1 year Juan Ramon Sandoval Rayo Vallecano 43 Spanish
8 months Manuel Pellegrini Malaga 57 Chilean
8 months Javier Aguirre Real Zaragoza 52 Mexican
5 months Jose Luis Mendilibar Osasuna 50 Spanish
0 Marcelino Sevilla 45 Spanish
0 Gregorio Manzano Atletico Madrid 55 Spanish
0 Juan Ignacio Martinez Levante 46 Spanish
0 Philippe Montanier Real Sociedad 46 French
0 Luis Garcia Getafe 38 Spanish

 With Barcelona´s footballing model winning plaudits from across the world for its adherence to a long-term philosophy built on developing the youth system, most of the rest of Spain continues to look short-term.

Mourinho´s four-year deal with Real and Luis Garcia´s three-year contract at Getafe are rarities.

Manzano´s return to serial-sackers Atletico on a more typical one-season deal is their ninth coaching appointment since they were promoted back into La Liga in 2002.

With the big two of Real and Barca seemingly more dominant than ever, what chances do any of the new faces have of getting their hands on a trophy and of becoming just another ”indignado” this time next year?

Play-off drama

Elche and Granada will do battle for the final promotion place to La Liga in the second division play-off final this week.

Granada beat Celta Vigo in a dramatic penalty shootout on Saturday, after a 1-1 draw over two legs. Granada keeper Roberto was the hero, scoring from the spot and then saving Celta´s final effort for a 5-4 win.

Elche came back from 2-0 down on aggregate to win 3-2 against Real Valladolid on Sunday thanks to two spectacular freekicks in three minutes from Edu Albacar.

Granada have not graced La Liga since 1976 and were playing in the fourth tier of Spanish football only six years ago. Elche have to look back to 1988-89 for their last run in the top-flight.

The first leg is in Granada on Wednesday and the return in Elche on Saturday and the victors will join already promoted Real Betis and Rayo Vallecano in the Primera division.

Barca and Real – super machines flying at a different speed

To end this week’s post, here is a quote from the president of Levante, one of the top-flight’s smallest clubs by budget, on his view of the current situation in Spain’s primera division:

“There is one competition that Barca and Real Madrid play, two super machines which fly at a different speed,” Catalan told the latest edition of the professional league (LFP) magazine.

“Then you have a separate league which the rest of us compete in thanks to the economic disparity caused by the way revenue from television rights is shared out.

“The proof is the small number of points in the season just ended between the team in seventh and those which managed to stay up.

“We have to sit down and analyse what we want and where we want to go. The La Liga needs to stop, think, analyse, discuss and decide what we are going to do in the coming years.”

PHOTO: Sporting Gijon’s coach Manuel Preciado (L) gestures next to Barcelona’s coach Pep Guardiola during their Spanish first division soccer match at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona September 22, 2010. REUTERS/Albert Gea.

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