Forza Futbol

A Better Lens at Spanish Football

It has not been the greatest of experiences for Marcelino Garcia Toral. Sevilla is a club with a very distinct identity, forged by its bright and energetic sporting director Monchi and the high-octane play at its pinnacle under Juande Ramos. Ever since the spectacular falling-out between the former manager and the half of the city that supports los nervionenses, the club have struggled to find a way back to the confidence they played with just a handful of years ago when they terrorized the league and put the fear of a sustained challenge to the heavyweights in La Liga.

Unfortunately, although decline has been gradual, the downward plunge has been unavoidable. The club, which won two consecutive UEFA Cups and a Spanish Super-Cup since 2005-2006, have seen the likes of Sergio Ramos and Jose Antonio Reyes leave certainly, it’s what allowed them to fill their roster with the right mix of age and enthusiasm, but they have never been able to catch lightning in a bottle again. From the squad that beat Espanyol at Hampden Park in Scotland on May 16, 2007, there are few still in Sevilla. Goalkeeper Andres Palop has been supplanted by Javi Varas from being first-choice keeper and has been out with nagging injuries. Dani Alves was sold to FC Barcelona months after the match. Javi Navarro retired and has served as an assistant under subsequent coaches. Antonio Puerta who passed away of a heart attack three months later. Dragutinovic, who was first to help the late Antonio Puerta before his death, also retired in 2009. Jose Luis Martí left Sevilla in 2008 for Real Sociedad and later returned to his hometown club Mallorca. Christian Poulsen has bopped around to Ligue 1 side Evian after high-profile moves to Juventus and Liverpool. Enzo Maresca spent time in Greece before returning to Spain this year with Malaga. Adriano left for Barcelona and now plays only sparingly. Aleksandr Kerzhakov spent only that one bright year in Spain returning to Russia shortly after. Renato and Luis Fabiano returned to Brazil. Of that squad, only Jesús Navas and Fredi Kanouté remain. The squad has been replenished, Monchi has bought well if not spectacularly well like he did to set up that great run, but there are quality players on that squad.

Gary Medel is a Chilean international. Alvaro Negredo has grown into his role as the primary goal-scorer if he still lacks the killer instinct in front og goal that Luis Fabiano had in his prime. Diego Perotti a young and talented Argentine international and Manu de Moral is a shining star just bursting with talent, but the club lack an identity, and the reason is sitting on the bench.

Now this isn’t a Marcelino Garcia Toral attack. With the right squad, Marcelino can return to pinnacle of being one of the most highly respected coaches in Spain. He has the reputation for taking small clubs and saving them, like he did with Sporting Gijon or Racing Santander, but in the right situation with a bigger club I think he would do very well. Valencia would have been a great situation for him if he could have agreed to a contract with them as was reported four years ago. They might have reacted better to Marcelino’s demanding and micro-managing style than the sort of dressing room that Sevilla have, maybe not someone more permissive but someone who could build team spirit and unity. The recent row with team-leader Kanoute is indicative of the fact that Sevilla’s very insular structure is wary of coaches like Marcelino, and bringing a cancer like Jose Antonio Reyes into that already volatile mix was self-defeating.

The signs are pointing to the fact that Marcelino will be asked to leave, either Michel or Michael Laudrup are rumored to be in the running, and best yet Marcelino will land on his feet. Sporting de Gijon let Manolo Preciado go, and that looks like a good fit for Garcia Toral in the future who hails from Asturias, but Sevilla will continue to struggle I’m afraid. They need to sort their coaching situation out. Laudrup is as demanding if not moreso than Marcelino and how much of a boost could Michel provide? The fact is that the one coach who could solve the problems is the one who built Juande Ramos’s great side in the first place. If Joaquin Caparros ever had it in him to return to the scene of the crime, a place just 40 minutes away from the place of his birth, then quite honestly you might see Jose Maria del Nido’s club turn it around. Until then I just see more of the same lackluster play.

Forza Futbol On February - 5 - 2012

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