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Wednesday January 16 2013
Michel's woes at Sevilla

As another new Coach is ushered in at Sevilla, Mina Rzouki analyses exactly what went wrong with Michel’s reign.

Trying for over an hour to access Sevilla’s training ground, members of Biris, the club’s Ultra group, then took to hurling abuse at Michel and the players who were performing their daily morning exercises a few days ago. So infuriated with the team’s poor performances and low ranking within the League, they felt they had no option but to voice their almighty disapproval.

Another defeat over the weekend was being described as the latest disaster in the Sevilla crisis. A team with no identity and players without confidence, the club was engulfed in negativity and longing for consistency in their performances. Michel knew his time was up.

Having arrived with the short-term task of steadying the ship after Marcelino Garcia Toral’s departure, he took about rescuing an undisciplined team in hopes of guiding them back to being consistent winners. The rules were made clear: qualification to Europe would see the Coach offered an extension to his contract.

The objective was not met and the team finished ninth and yet the Coach was given the go ahead to stay on despite the club’s trigger-happy approach to firing tacticians. Against the backdrop of ongoing pleas from the fans to bring back Joaquin Caparros, Jose Maria Del Nido and company believed that Michel understood the failings of the side and was capable of solving the conundrums within to achieve success. Bestowing him with their collective confidence, the Coach started to work on improving the squad and developing the players.  

Alvaro Negredo had admitted to past problems within the Sevilla dressing room that had angered his Coach. Certain players’ attitude and the indiscipline within the side that often saw team members arriving late for training were being described as the reasons for the squad’s miserable collapse last season. Taking several months to rectify the situation, Negredo promised they were ready to face the new season and that things would be different. Except there was no difference.

Despite the good start to the campaign, cracks began to appear once again to set the wheels of inconsistency in motion. Euphoric wins against the likes of Betis masked the deficiencies of the side that embarrassingly lost matches to the likes of Celta Vigo and Valladolid – opponents deemed as inferior. The team appeared trapped in a state of confusion and unaware of how to turn the situation around.

Defensively sluggish and liable to an excessive number of individual errors, the team suffered with their transitions. Poor when it came to defending set pieces and imprecise in finishing their own chances, Michel struggled with his tactics. Essentially the side was too stretched out leaving gaping holes between players that slowed transitions and left the forwards isolated. In recent matches, the Coach had seemingly understood his failings and was working on creating a more compact unit but it was too little too late.

He failed to translate his ideas clearly to the squad and was often left angered by their inability to carry out his instructions, leading to a number of unexpected defeats. However, to blame him entirely for the failings of the side would be unfair.

A club governed by a President who was sentenced to seven years in prison, Del Nido himself warned the fans at the start of the season to not expect qualification to the Champions League considering the club’s financial woes. Their annual budget dropped by close to €50m whilst key players such as Frederic Kanoute departed to strip the side of players capable of lending consistency and leadership qualities.

Michel may not have been the right choice but the circumstances around him only weakened his position. Sporting director Monchi accepted some of the blame telling the Press that the club is in the position they are in because of the decisions he took. “Great professionals have passed through Sevilla and neither they nor I have been able to find a solution to achieve consistency in our performances.”

Unai Emery is the latest Coach to be handed the reigns, a man capable of reaching out to players to get the best out of them. One wonders if he can make the difference or whether he too will succumb to the same fate as his recent predecessors.

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