Sevilla are here once again; another coach no one really wanted, another spell of insipid football, and another sorry end. Marcelino Garcia Toral was removed from his position at the Andalucían club on Monday morning, after being called to a meeting he previous night, following another disgruntled, lethargic loss. This time, it was in front of their fans, and Villarreal, a side still searching for their own souls, were the protagonists. A last ditch gamble of 3-5-2 with every creative outlet available on the field, only confused more than concocted.
The final whistle from one man on the field was met with whistles from a thousand men in the stands. It was poisonous, and directed towards various sources. The Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán is a chaotic whirl of sound in its pomp, but it can be corrosive when things aren’t going well.
Marcelino is the latest in a long line of mistakes made by Sevilla as a project, both on a management and personnel level. The glory days of Juande Ramos and his electrifying side, are now but a distant memory, confined to the halls of the famous Pizjuán. Dani Alves, Seydou Keita, Christian Poulsen, Adriano, Renato, Luis Fabiano, Jesús Navas, Frédéric Kanouté and many more. It was a glorious team of which now few remain.
The trophy haul began in Ramos’ first season, and continued up until his departure. Those are the days Sevilla’s passionate supporters long for, and the senior management have attempted to replicate. Ultimately, it has been a case of several false dawns.
A scouting policy that was the envy of Spain, has seemingly disintegrated. Monchi, the man in charge of such operations, has for many lost his Midas touch. His high wage packet has only increased the level of dissatisfaction at his record in recent years. Monchi recently bemoaned that it was becoming more difficult to find another Dani Alves. “I remember watching Dani, and on that night there was around two other scouts. “I travel to Brazil now, there are 30 scouts watching the same player. Things have changed”, Monchi recently stated. They may indeed have changed, but he hasn’t. There has been a slow acknowledgment of new markets, and where Sevilla used to be pioneers in such a thing, they are now latecomers. Players like Keita and Dani Alves left for generous fees, but Monchi’s inability to replace them has left the club in this position. ‘Project Africa’ as Sevilla fans labelled it, the arrival of Arouna Koné, Kofi Romaric, Mouhamadou Dabo and Abdoulay Konko (the latter two of African descent), was a complete disaster. Around this time too, Luis Fabiano was signing a new deal yet engineering his exit at the same time. A humiliating saga. Sevilla failed with moves for players too; incompetence during negotiations with Borja Valero only deterred the player, and he moved elsewhere.
Monchi netted Luca Cigarini instead, and less said about the Italian the better.
These errors at playing staff level, were of only a greater magnitude at a technical level. Upon Ramos’ departure, Manolo Jiménez was brought in – a popular figure amongst fans for his work with the youth team. He did well for a period, but the inevitable deterioration came, and he was moved on. Antonio Álvarez was next up, also chosen from within the club. This was only after Luis Aragones turned down the job, belief was he cited working work with a character like Del Nido as the reason – few blamed him. Álvarez for awhile, like Jiménez, did well and even managed to win the Copa Del Rey. His ability had a ceiling however. Throughout the spells of both coaches the football was negative, and it was difficult for many who experienced the Ramos years to be enamoured with such a thing.
It was then a shock, that Gregorio Manzano was handed the job. Sevilla again, had flirted with other coaches, but to no avail. Manzano never built any relationship with the players or supporters, and despite fantastic work at Real Mallorca, his psychological methods never enthused the squad. His tactics made Álvarez and Jiménez look expansive, opting in several games to fielded two holding midfielders – at an infuriated Pizjuán. Navas’ trademark wing wizardry was also reigned in.
At the end of the season, Manzano’s time was up.
The summer was then a defining moment for Sevilla. For the first time, Del Nido and Monchi had time to draw up their plan approach the man they truly wanted. Marcelo Bielsa seemed to be that man. It came to light that he’d had several contacts with the hierarchy, and had gone as far as to create dossiers on the current squad and attend youth team games. With a contract all tied up, Sevilla, out of nowhere, pulled out. Del Nido was fearful of the power that Bielsa could wield, and the sweeping changes he wished to make to a club that had been stagnant for too long. Again, Del Nido thought of himself before the club. The Argentinean coach moved to Athletic, and since then has never looked back. Former Coach Joaquín Caparrós was then considered, but a previously fraught relationship with Del Nido came into play. It was a shame, given that Sevilla cantera was bursting with life, and Caparrós’ work with the younger players in his previous spell, is well renowned.
So, it was left to Marcelino. No one wanted him, and as much as Del Nido and Monchi tried to convince anyone who still listened to them, they didn’t believe it themselves.
The trust between club, and fans, evaporated – that’s without even going into Del Nido’s murky affair passing through the Spanish legal system. He was found guilty of fraud, but the saga will rumble on for some time. Ironic, in that the majority of the Pizjuán want to trial him on that exact count.
Marcelino looked to build from the back, and there were glimpses his message was being taken on board. Sevilla defended competently, and looked organised, capable of stifling any team. Barcelona found this out at the Camp Nou. A defeat to Granada only exposed the systems flaws. The transition from defence to attack was insipid, and despite various creative outlets and pace in wide areas, Marcelino failed to find the cohesion required to execute the system fully. José Antonio Reyes came home but instead of bringing balloons and cake, he’s brought a curse – they haven’t won since he arrived. Álvaro Negredo has even lost his spike. It was left for Gary Medel to do everything– and the Chilean has shown nothing but fortitude throughout. Then, a bust-up between Marcelino and Kanouté in training over the Malian’s fitness cranked up the tension.
Marcelino clearly couldn’t motivate the team any longer, and the response, or lack thereof, to Villarreal’s second goal, confirmed that. Míchel will be the safe pair of hands installed to carry Sevilla over the line, but his appointment is indicative of the approach in recent years – short-termism. Summer remains a daunting prospect.
Figures show that few places in Europe see more sunlight on average per year thanSeville, only Del Nido wants every bit to himself. Until he departs, Sevilla, and the fans’ aspirations, will forever remain in the shade.