This week Getafe fired Quique Sánchez Flores after the defeat against Almería. The same thing had happened before to Francisco, Jorge Almirón, Machín, Lopetegui, Sampaoli, Coudet, Gattuso, Diego Martínez and Pacheta. In Second the mark shoots up; Guede, Nafti, Bolo, Baraja, Carcedo, Karanka, Gomes, Hernán, Anquela, Romo, Abelardo, Mel, Justo, Carrillo, Idiakez, Gallego… More than 40 different technicians have sat on a bench among those who left, those who replaced them and those who were seated while the replacements were decided.
40 technicians in Second
Not to mention the First Federation, a new competition in national football with 40 teams that has become a bench ‘crusher’. In Group 1, 17 technicians have been fired, while in Group II there were already 18. Only four days had to pass for patience with the first coach to be lost. In this case, the Canarian coach Chus Trujillo, who after seeing how Agrupación Deportiva Ceuta lost four games, was replaced by José Juan Romero from Seville. Then it has been a constant with the passing of the days.
But the trend is not exclusive to Spanish football. In the Premier, a league with a historical tradition of good governance and patience when it comes to keeping coaches on the bench, months ago the record of fired coaches was broken, whose maximum mark was ten, a record that occurred two seasons ago. In this one they already go for 14. In fact, only five of the 20 current coaches have remained in their posts for two years or more: Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, David Moyes at West Ham, Mikel Arteta at Arsenal and Thomas Frank at Brentford.
Why does this phenomenon occur? Is there more impatience with the technicians now? Is it proven in football terms that firing the coach produces an improvement in the results of the teams? To analyze this phenomenon, we spoke with Borja Jiménez, who has been the coach of Ávila, Valladolid B, Izarra, Rápido de Bouzas, Mirandés, Greek Asteras Tripolis, Cartagena and Deportivo de la Coruña, the club he directed in the 2021-22 season.
This 38-year-old from Avila is clear that in current football “there are more and more people in the structure of a club between the coach and the president. A sports director, a general manager, a technical secretary… It’s more people to justify their role and more people who point to the coach when things aren’t going well because he’s the weakest link in the chain”. For Jimenez “Now there are more interesting individuals around you. That of the sports director, the agent of another coach who wants to ‘place’ him, that of the player who doesn’t play and waits for another one to arrive… Although in the end that player doesn’t usually play anymore because the coaches have a similar sense of the game and we tend to agree on the choice of players”.
Borja maintains that “there are two types of clubs. Those who solve everything sitting at a table, with the president, the general manager and the coach. And those who don’t even fit on a wedding table because of the number of people involved in decision-making”. For the former sports coach, “fortunately there are clubs from the former. I was lucky to work at Mirandés with a great president, Alfredo (de Miguel), who knows about this, and a sports director like Chema (Aragón), who also knows a lot about football”.
Intone the mea culpa
But not everything has to do with the patience of the leaders and the elephantization of the structures of the clubs, the coaches must also look at their navels. Jiménez intones the mea culpa in this sense: “The coaches themselves are mistreating the profession. We don’t respect it and then things happen like the things we’re seeing. There are three main reasons that push to be a coach: passion, money and leisure. As long as one person doesn’t care what he’s going to charge for it because he’s inspired by another reason, everything breaks. There are more and more coaches and the number of benches is not growing, which is why it is more difficult. And there are people who accept anything with the justification that ‘it’s my great opportunity’.
In this course, cases of coaches who signed contracts “until the last worked” have been uncovered, or technicians who signed for a limited time and a derisory amount that until not long ago was unthinkable to be accepted as the salary of a professional coach. Borja is clear: “Now you see people who reach benches because they accept whatever conditions are, not because meritocracy takes them there. It would be nice if in order to train at a certain level, a certain meritocracy had to be completed. That would guarantee a coherence that we don’t see at the sporting level now.”
The eternal question then arises: is it really useful to change a coach? The man from Avila is categorical in this: “In 90% of coach changes, the team stays in the zone it was in. If you were at 15, you’ll go up to 13 or go down to 17, but not much further because there’s the existing squad. Very few trainers generate noticeable improvement. The case of Unai Emery comes to mind as one of the latter”. Elche, with its fourth coach and the already evicted team seems a good example of this. While in Seville there are cases. Sampaoli was not able to unblock the situation that was created with Lopetegui, but Mendilibar has worked the miracle.
a knot in the head
Borja explains what generates so much change in the dressing room: “Players who have two or three coaches end up having a knot in their heads. If you need three or four games to untie that knot and for them to get hold of the idea of the game that you are proposing, you are very committed. In the end, the footballers end up not knowing what to expect. However, when a president tells the squad, ‘This coach will stay until the end of the season’, the player knows that you have to go to a team with him so that everyone goes well. But if the player knows that it is not like that, it does not matter to him to win, draw or lose. On Sunday he arrives at the locker room, takes a shower, takes his phone and leaves. And on Monday when he comes he knows that he will have someone training him. Whoever it”.
In this aspect, the players are also more protected by multiplying the structure. This is how the former Cartagena coach sees it: “Before, when a coach was kicked out of a team for one season, it was his fault. And when a second coach was brought in, people would point at the players. Now if a second coach, a third or a fourth coach arrives, people point to the sports director or the president. And the player in the end is more protected and less exposed”.
Jiménez misses more involvement from the players and notices a disaffection in the changing rooms that does not help to create the group atmosphere or a certain club culture: “Today it is surprising to see a player get involved in the idiosyncrasies of the club, go to see a game played by the quarry or walk down the town street. At Mirandés you are obliged by contract to live there and that brings you closer to the people and involves you more emotionally in the team. It seems to me a success. I’ve always liked getting involved in the clubs I’ve had and I’ve liked having players who do it”.
Does this drift have a solution? Borja Jiménez is not particularly “optimistic” in this regard, even though “when you arrive everything is good words and good wishes. At that moment you always think about the maximum and nobody talks about the minimum. But in the end the results dictate judgment. And the weight of non-victory is inexorable”.