With just one week until the end of the current Spanish top flight season, attention is already starting to turn to what is shaping up to be a frenetic summer of coaching switches. Doubts linger over the futures of bosses all over the country. Although in some cases, the situation is likely to be resolved swiftly, several teams including Barcelona, are already looking for a new coach. With a few other current bosses having signalled their intentions to leave their current roles, there is sure to be a flurry of activity over the coming month or so as teams look to land the right man or hold onto to their current coach.
One move could trigger a huge domino effect and it’s virtually impossible to predict who the 20 coaches in La Liga will be when the 2017-18 campaign kicks off in August. Working on the assumption that Sporting Gijon will join Granada and Osasuna in dropping out of the top flight, these are the current coaching situations at the 17 remaining clubs plus Levante, who have already secured an immediate return to La Liga.
Positions that need filling
To some extent everyone is waiting to see what Barcelona do. Luis Enrique’s decision to vacate his post at the end of the campaign has led to a host of other coaches in La Liga being linked with the job. Athletic boss Ernesto Valverde has emerged as the clear front-runner and we should have some kind of announcement by the end of the month.
Including current caretaker boss Alexis Trujillo, Betis have had five different coaches in the last 18 months and they’ll be looking for another one this summer with both Gus Poyet and Victor Sanchez failing to impress this term. No clear favourite has emerged and Betis may have to play a waiting game with several other positions likely to be considered more attractive by out-of-work bosses. The club desperately needs some stability so it’d be foolish to rush into another poor appointment.
Quique Setién has confirmed he will leave Las Palmas at the end of the season. Despite an abysmal current run of form, he’s done a great job on Gran Canaria in keeping Las Palmas up with relative ease whilst also playing some of the best football in the league. Like Betis they may wait for a few other clubs to make their moves before plumping for someone with many more coaches likely to be freed from contracts in a matter of weeks.
Positions that may need filling
The San Mames hotspot looks almost certain to also be vacant in the very near future. Ernesto Valverde has reportedly already told the club he will be leaving and is also the current favourite to take over at Camp Nou. His four year stay in the Basque Country has been largely successful but the position isn’t quite as appealing as it has been in previous years with key forward Aritz Aduriz turning 37 next term and a relatively rare lack of emerging young Basque talent.
Jorge Sampaoli, once strongly linked with Barcelona, now looks set to take the Argentina job which once again will leave Sevilla searching for a new boss. With the likely lure of Champions League football, it’s an attractive post although some uncertainty exists over how the club will progress without sporting director Monchi, largely credited as the mastermind behind their success over the past decade. Current Las Palmas boss Quique Setién is a strong contender to take over as is Celta’s Eduardo Berizzo but Sevilla may look further afield again.
Eduardo Berizzo is one man who has really enhanced his reputation over the past couple of years. A 6th place finish in La Liga last term and runs to the last four of the Copa del Rey and Europa League this seasons despite Celta losing star player Nolito has pushed him onto the radar of big clubs around Europe and the 47 year old may well feel he is ready for a bigger challenge. His current deal expires in the summer and there’s a strong chance he will leave meaning Celta may also be in the hunt for a new coach.
Current boss Mauricio Pellegrino has done a fine job this season leading the newly promoted side to the top half of La Liga and the Copa del Rey final and the club is keen for him to extend his current deal which expires next month. However he has been touted as the favourite for the Celta job in the event of Berizzo’s departure and Betis are also said to be keen. The ball is very much in Pellegrino’s court and he may wait to see if his side can cause a huge upset and beat Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final which would see the Basque side into Europe, topping anything Celta or Betis could offer.
Fran Escribá has done a solid job in the end after being appointed on the eve of the season following the surprise exit of Marcelino. Europa League qualification looks all but certain and Escribá may feel with a full pre-season, he could achieve even greater things. However he’s another coach whose deal expires next month and somewhat mysteriously Villarreal have yet to clarify his future. Greek giants Olympiacos are said to be keen on Escribá and his departure would leave yet another big job up for grabs at the top end of La Liga. The likes of Berizzo and Setién could again be in the frame.
Deportivo La Coruna
Pepe Mel replaced the sacked Gaizka Garitano in late February on an initial deal to the end of the season. A bright start including a famous win over Barcelona, immediately endeared himself to the Riazor faithful but it’s been tough going since. Mel recently stated his intentions to remain at the club next term (Spanish) but there has been no confirmation from the club yet as we await the outcome of their survival bid.
Positions that look safe
Leganes – Asier Garitano
Garitano has been in charge of Leganes for four years now, a relative eternity in the world of Spanish football. In that time, he’s taken the Madrid minnows from the third tier to the top flight and Leganes are on the brink of securing another season at this level. With a contract penned until at least 2018, his stay at the club looks set to continue for at least another year.
Eibar – Jose Luis Mendilibar
Minnows Eibar have again surpassed all expectations this season in securing a top half finish. Despite that, there has been no strong interest from elsewhere in acquiring the services of Mendilibar and the experienced coach has recently extended his contract until the end of next season so looks set to stay in the Basque Country.
Valencia – Marcelino
Perhaps anticipating the chaos that could take place over the next month with several top Spanish clubs looking for a coach, Valencia have jumped the gun to some extent and appointed former Villarreal boss Marcelino. He will officially take over from caretaker boss Voro in July and it might just be the best decision the club has made for some time. It’ll be intriguing to see what the highly rated coach can get out of this largely youthful Valencia side that has shown glimpses of quality over the past few months after a dreadful couple of years.
Malaga – Michel
It has been a turbulent 12 months for Malaga with the successful Javi Gracia leaving at the end of last term for Russia and his successor Juande Ramos issuing a surprise resignation in late December. Marcelo Romero followed him but never looked like succeeding and was promptly sacked in March. However Michel has come in and has brought about a dramatic improvement with 6 wins out of 7 heading into this weekend. There is suddenly a degree of optimism around La Rosaleda and Michel will certainly be in charge of Malaga at the start of next term.
Real Madrid – Zinedine Zidane
It’s safe to say things have gone pretty well for Zinedine Zidane’s first managerial adventure. With Los Blancos looking good to win La Liga and in another Champions League final, he’s really rescued Real Madrid from the state of crisis they looked in when he took over. With a host of young players impressing this season, the future looks bright too and Zidane is rumoured to have agreed a new deal until 2020.
Levante – Juan Muñiz
When Levante finished bottom of La Liga during the 2015/16 season, few could have predicted the ease with which they’d bounce back. Under the stewardship of Juan Ramón Muñiz, they’ve held onto top spot in the Segunda Division since match-day three and with a huge 16 point advantage on 3rd place Getafe have already won promotion. The 48 year old is under contract until the end of next term and will lead Levante’s bid to re-cement themselves in the top flight.
Atlético Madrid – Diego Simeone
Diego Simeone has been linked with a move away from Atleti for several years now and at times has even hinted he would leave. However this summer, all the noises suggest he will stay put and lead Atleti into a new era at their brand new stadium. The Argentine would love to add some more silverware to the Atleti trophy cabinet before he moves on, which could be at the end of next season when his current deal expires.
Real Sociedad – Eusebio Sacristán
Eusebio was another name strongly linked with the Barcelona job and he has done a cracking job in San Sebastian. As a former Barca B coach, he appeared a strong candidate to replace Luis Enrique but Eusebio has repeatedly ruled himself out of contention and recently signed a new contract extending his stay in the Basque Country so it seems he is going nowhere this summer and is all set to lead La Real back into Europe next term.
Espanyol – Quique Sánchez Flores
Signed up until 2019, Sanchez Flores has the longest contract in La Liga along with Eusebio and it’s hard to see him going anywhere after a strong first season at the RCDE Stadium. Espanyol have passed 50 points for the first time since 2005 and the former Watford boss is well on his way to restoring his reputation as one of the top Spanish coaches.
Trying to figure out exactly who will move where and what that will trigger is no easy game and if history teaches us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. The mysteries should begin to unravel once the final round of fixtures conclude or perhaps even before that with the departure of a number of coaches likely to be confirmed. It’s entirely plausible that four of the current top six sides will be looking for a coach in just a couple of weeks and that’s not good news for the likes of Celta Vigo and Alaves, who may struggle to hold onto their bosses.
However there’s likely to be plenty of twists and turns over the coming months and one surprise move could shake everything up. On the eve of last season, the news broke that the successful Marcelino was leaving his seemingly stable Villarreal post so until the first ball is kicked of the 2017-18 season, it’d probably be unwise to assume too much.