Antonio Álvarez: La Liga’s First Coaching Casualty

Only five rounds into the new La Liga season and already there is a coaching change. I must say I was wondering who would be the first casualty. Personally my first likely candidates were: Almeria’s Jose Manuel Lillo, Real Zaragoza’s Jose Aurelio Gay, Levante’s Luis Garcia or Racing’s Miguel Angel Portugal.  However, following today’s loss to Hercules, Sevilla’s chairman Jose Maria Del Nido decided to sack present coach Antonio Alvarez and appoint ex-Mallorca boss Gregorio Manzano.

While I think it is a good coaching change I think the club was too hasty to dismiss Alvarez without really giving him much of a chance. He took over from Manolo Jimenez, who in my opinion was also doing a great job but the club’s impatience got the better of them and he too was fired.  Since taking over from Jimenez, in the short amount games he was in control of he managed a 63.63% winning rate, winning 7 of his 11 games while losing the other 4.  However, there is a saying in football that goes “it is easier to replace the coach than an entire team” and that Del Nido did.

After the poor start to the campaign, I must admit it was a poor start.  Alvarez was sacked following the 2-0 debacle at the Jose Rico Perez Stadium after two David Trezeguet goals.  Alvarez’s record for the new season saw Sevilla win only 2 league games, frustrated by Racing de Santander and Deportivo La Coruña in bore draws and losing to Hercules.  Not something a club of Sevilla’s stature should be going through.  His European adventures were just as disappointing.  Sevilla were defeated in the Champion’s League qualifying round by Sporting Braga losing 1-0 away and then by 4 goals to 3 on home turf and the Sevillistas had to settle for their team playing in the 2nd rate European Competition- The Europa League, which they won back to back in the 2005-06 and 2006-07 season as well as, they won the 2006 UEFA Super Cup under Juande Ramos, so it was expected that they would at the very least do well in the group stages of the new campaign and start off with a win.  However, they got their campaign off to a poor start losing at home to Paris Saint Germain 1-0.  The Spanish Super Cup was also another debacle for the Sevillistas.  After battling back from a 1-0 deficit against Barcelona to win the first leg 3-1 in the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, they travelled to Camp Nou and lost 4-0 in what was a poor display from Los Nervionenses.

One major mistake the boss made was keeping Luis Fabiano on the bench. How does he even think about leaving one of the best forwards in La Liga on the bench?  No disrespect to Negredo because I do believe that he is a quality forward but Fabiano for me is better and he gives the team that extra flair, that extra confidence, especially when he plays with Kanoute.

Taking a look at Gregorio Manzano

Gregorio Manzano Ballesteros is one of the few coaches in the game that never played the sport professionally.  Despite never playing professionally he is one of the most experienced and talented tacticians that brings flair and style to any team he manages.

His first job as coach of a La Liga team was when he took over at Valladolid in the 1999-2000 season where he led the team to an 8th place finish and in that very campaign beat Real Madrid 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu.  One of the best finishes in La Liga in the club’s history.  After this achievement he was hired by Racing de Santander where he did not have as much success with the Racinguistas and they were relegated.  However, they did thrash Barcelona 4-0 in front of their home fans.  He however stayed in the first division with Rayo Vallecano where he helped them to an 11th place finish in the league.  The following season, 2002-03, he was named coach of Mallorca.  During that season he led the team to a 5-1 demolition of Real Madrid and the team won the King’s Cup for the first time in club history.  In the 2003-04 season he signed on as Atletico de Madrid’s coach, where he led them to a 7th place finish and the team qualified for the UEFA Cup.  The following season he took the helm at Malaga and led them to a 10th place finish.  In 2006 he returned to Mallorca where he would remain head coach for the next four years.  In the 2006-07 season the team finished 12th in the league the following season saw them finish 7th and the 08/09 season saw them finish 9th.  During the 2009-10 he led the team to a brilliant home streak with the team winning their first 10 home games, while losing only 3 games at home all season to Barcelona, Sevilla and Real Madrid.  The team looked set to qualify for the UEFA Champion’s League but ended up losing the spot to Sevilla who had won their final game 3-2 against Almeria which meant Mallorca would only qualify for the Europa League.  Due to financial problems at the club, Mallorca had stated that they were not going to renew the contract of Manzano.  His only individual accolade is the Don Balón Award – Coach of the year: 2008.

Manzano is definitely the type of coach that can get Sevilla back on the right track and I certainly wish him the best in his tenure.

4 thoughts on “Antonio Álvarez: La Liga’s First Coaching Casualty

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