El Centrocampista

THE MANAGERIAL MERRY-GO-ROUND – Waiting for the fun to start.

The season is only two weeks old, yet talk of managerial departures is already rife in Spain.

A total of eight managers lost their jobs during the season last year, whilst another seven left the hot seats in the summer for either the dole queue or a new club.

The first departure of last season came on the 26th of September in the shape of Sevilla boss Antonio Alvarez, despite being seventh in the table – though a 2-0 loss away at newly promoted Hercules was the final nail in his coffin.

So who will be the first to leave this time around?

Rumours are already rife that Mallorca manager Michael Laudrup could be under huge pressure already after a monumental bust-up with vice-President Lorenzo Serra Ferrer.

Laudrup is furious with the Mallorca board over what he claims to be ‘improvisation’ on the clubs transfer policy.

Over 12 months of financial difficulties have really taken their toll on Mallorca, and this was made evident upon the sales of Cameroonian striker Pierre Webo and star man Jonathan de Guzman to Eskisehirspor and Villarreal respectively.

Any incomings have been either on free transfers or purchased very cheaply, whilst deadline day signing Marvin Ogunjimi’s move from Racing Genk has been vetoed by FIFA for not going through in time.

Michael Laudrup is feeling the Mallorca heat.

They did however make one move on deadline day, in the shape of Sampdoria midfielder Federico Tissone.

And Laudrup will have certainly been feeling the heat during his side’s 1-0 defeat away at Betis, played in sweltering conditions of around 40 degrees.

There are plenty of other managers who could be hitting the headlines soon for being under pressure – many critics are already claiming that Marcelo Bielsa isn’t the right man for Bilbao, which seems like a knee-jerk reaction to two unfortunate results – people must realise that they are building a project at San Mamés and that the results will take time.

The axe will looming over other candidates such as Osasuna’s Jose Luis Mendilibar, Zaragoza’s Javier Aguirre and Vallecano’s Jose Ramon Sandoval, whilst the situation at Granada is one to keep an eye on – enigmatic chairman Giampaolo Pozzo has worked hard to bring in some very good players to Granada and if they look like going down, Pozzo could be forced into action.

Another situation to watch is that of Unai Emery at Valencia – confused? So are many people.

Emery led Valencia to a superb 3rd place finish after losing their prized David’s – Silva and Villa – and qualified for the Champions League on a limited budget.

So why is he considered as a man under pressure?

The Valencia board were unhappy with two main things last season – Emery’s constant tinkering with the side and his inability to lead Valencia past Schalke in the Champions League Last 16.

The board felt that Emery had a good enough side to get through to at least the last eight, maybe even further.

Reports claimed that Valencia had even offered Emery’s job to former boss Rafael Benitez after his sacking at Inter Milan, only for the Liverpool hero to turn the job down, citing that he wanted to stay in England.

As the season drew to a close and Valencia had secured third place and another season of European football, Valencia were torn over whether to offer Emery a new deal.

In the end, they offered a contract on reduced terms, hoping that he would turn it down – Emery called their bluff and accepted.

So if Valencia finish lower than third, expect Emery to be given the boot.

And there is no shortage of managers available either.

Former Bilbao boss Joaquin Caparros has just left his job at Swiss club Neuchatel Xamax after his controversial chairman threatened his players with a gun, and will surely be the No. 1 target for any La Liga club looking to replace their manager.

Add to that Quique Sanchez Flores, Benitez and possibly Roma boss Luis Enrique after his infamous spat with Francesco Totti, and there are plenty of options available.


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