Sevilla traditionally expect
to be challenging for European honours and it has fallen to
former Real Madrid player Michel to get their faltering campaign
for a European spot next season back on track.
The Andalusian side, UEFA Cup winners under Juande Ramos in
2006 and 2007, sacked coach Marcelino earlier this week after
they managed only two points from their last seven league games
and were eliminated from the Europa League and the King's Cup.
Michel, who coached Getafe until the end of last season,
will make his debut away at Real Sociedad on Monday and begin
the task of steering the team from 11th in the standings.
Missing out on a lucrative place in the Champions League or
Europa League would be a severe blow to the club's finances.
Michel said after overseeing his first training session on
Wednesday that it was "unthinkable" that Sevilla were not among
the championship leaders and he was confident the squad was
strong enough to turn the season around.
"The sensation is one of hope," the sharp-dressing
48-year-old, told a news conference. "I thought I might find
players who were emotionally weary but instead we have felt
"We have three months of the season left and we want them to
Sevilla's biggest problem is a lack of goals - just 22 in 21
La Liga games - and the club is hoping Michel can get the best
out of leading striker Alvaro Negredo and forward Manu Del
Moral, with whom he worked at Real Madrid and Getafe
"This is a change we hope will also serve to alter the
negative dynamic that we have," Del Moral told a news conference
"He [Michel] arrived at Getafe with the club in similar
straits and he was able to turn things around and help avoid
"If I had to choose a coach to change this situation, Michel
is without doubt the best equipped."
While Sevilla have been struggling along with other sides
who regularly appear in Europe, including Villarreal and
Atletico Madrid, leaders Real and second-placed Barcelona have
been pulling inexorably away at the top.
The gap in wealth between the dominant pair and their
domestic rivals was underlined on Thursday when accounting firm
Deloitte confirmed them as the world's richest clubs by income
in their annual ranking for a third straight year.
Valencia, who are 11 points behind Barca in third with just
over half the season played, were 19th on the Deloitte list, the
only other Spanish club to make the top 20.
Champions Barca, chasing a fourth straight title, can trim
the gap with Real to four points with a win at Osasuna on
Saturday, before Jose Mourinho's Madrid side host fourth-placed Levante
Valencia host struggling Sporting Gijon on Sunday following
their elimination at Barca's hands in Wednesday's King's Cup
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