A sideways look at Spanish football
On Monday, when La Liga Loca pondered on these very pages how much longer Míchel could hang on as Sevilla boss, few could have known that the answer would prove to be “about 20 minutes”.
Saturday's defeat against Valencia continued a quite miserable run of just two league wins in 14, leaving the Andalusians five points from the relegation zone and 12 from the Champions League spots, with the latter being where Sevilla need to finish if they intend to make ends meet over the campaigns to come.
When the former Getafe boss was appointed Sevilla manager at the beginning of February last year, the mission scribbled on a note and handed to Míchel was to get the side back into Europe. That target was missed by some margin, with Sevilla finishing behind what you would generally describe as 'lesser sides', such as Mallorca, Levante, Osasuna and Real Madrid.
Nevertheless, Sevilla president José María del Nido seemed quite besotted with his coach, and on December 10 gushed that “we question the results but absolutely not the coach. He has the confidence of the board and the sporting leadership.” But Sevilla losing three of the four league games that followed this oozing of public support seems to have changed the tone at the Sánchez Pizjuán somewhat.
While the Sevilla squad is decent enough, there are a few rotten eggs among the playing staff, with one or two not giving a flying fish in most matches. After all, this is a side that beat Betis 5-1 and Real Madrid 1-0 this season. “A hidden face that occasionally appears,” was how Míchel described it, with his side deciding to play well enough to produce a victory just 13 times in his 36 league matches at the helm. To be fair to the dashing, square-jawed trainer, the former Real Madrid man has merely joined a long line of coaches who have failed to stop a steady slump at Sevilla; good managers such as Marcelino García and Gregorio Manzano among them.
But what's bad news for Míchel is very good news for LLL, with this blog tickled-purple at the prospect of the return of the crouching, pointing, white-board loving loon that is Unai Emery, who is now contracted to take the reins until the end of next season. The first task of the former Valencia boss is to lead the side in Wednesday’s first leg quarter-final Copa clash against Zaragoza, up in Aragonese lands.
That clash is the second of four ties taking place this week. The first is on Tuesday night at the Santiago Bernabéu and it’s set to be a Bullseye Speedboat of a double header between a Valencia team who have won seven from eight under Ernesto Valverde, and a Real Madrid outfit which now resemble the final ten band-falling-apart minutes of The Commitments.
The latest squabble in the Spanish capital centres around Angel di María, or at least that’s what Marca claim, with Tuesday’s edition suggesting that Mourinho tore the Argentinean a new one after the weekend draw with Osasuna for easing his foot off the gas ever since a new deal was signed. Di María was certainly given a punishment of sorts, having been forced to sit in the hot seat for the Valencia pre-match press conference, from where the winger tried to get back in the good books with a fine moan about referees. “They are sending us off for anything,” complained Di María in light of three red cards in three matches for Madrid, “these are mistakes that are not made in error.” However, di María’s form has been so off of late that not even this bit of his master’s bidding may be enough to spare him more tongue lashings.
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