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Thursday August 20 2015
2015-16 Season Preview: The Coaches

With new appointments and new problems, Luke Taylor discusses what to expect from the Coaches of La Liga in the new season…

In the football world, Coaches fascinate and intrigue us, enthral and enchant us, they entertain and engross us, whether it be for their charismatic Press conferences, their tactical nous or their dedication and commitment. This applies nowhere more so than in La Liga, where Coaches seem to be under the spotlight interminably, whether it be for good or bad reasons.

Expect 2015-16 to be no different, with various new appointments offering up new storylines and plots - especially at Santiago Bernabeu, where Rafa Benitez succeeds Carlo Ancelotti in attempting to placate Florentino Perez for at least a little while. The Real Madrid President wants success, and wants it now. Based on Perez’s recent managerial criteria, unless the League title or Champions League is won, then Benitez could be in trouble, and in order to achieve this he must manage a dressing room full of egos that could very easily turn against him and make his job a nightmare.

Giving Gareth Bale a starring role in an attempt to return him to the formidable form of his first season is all well and good, but Cristiano Ronaldo’s reaction to such a bold move could cause it to backfire. Benitez has said that he wants “balance and to concede fewer goals,” which perhaps points to a more defensive and pragmatic approach in an attempt to concede less often, especially in Europe.

Other new appointments are Fran Escriba at Getafe and Jose Luis Mendilibar at Eibar. Escriba’s impressive 13th place finish at Elche last year counted for nothing as they were relegated for failing to pay their debts. The well-travelled Mendilibar has a point to prove after a disappointing spell at Levante last season and his main aim will be to keep Eibar up this campaign after they were given a lifeline as a result of Elche’s demotion.

It is no secret that football coaching is an extremely high-pressurised profession, and a number of Coaches will be requiring good results to remain in a job. Nuno Espirito Santo did a fantastic job at Valencia last season, returning them to the Champions League whilst playing an intense and high-tempo game, but Los Che’s benefactor Peter Lim expects an improvement upon last season’s position, something that might not be feasible considering the strength of Atletico Madrid.

David Moyes also needs to hit the ground running at Real Sociedad, where a repeat of last season’s woes could cause La Real’s hierarchy to run out of patience with a man who was brought in to get them results. The Basques started well under the Scot but tailed off.

Luis Enrique’s situation at Barcelona, despite winning the treble last term, could be deemed unfavourable - with no new players permitted to play before January 3, Enrique must keep his players motivated and fresh, something that could become difficult if injuries start to occur and form starts to dip. He’s also now without Pedro Rodriguez.

As is always the case, be sure to keep an eye out for the captivating and beguiling character that is Paco Jemez, who is relentless in his mission record the fewest draws possible by playing a perilous attacking game. It will also be interesting to see how Pepe Mel fares in his return to La Liga with Real Betis and how much of an impact Phil Neville has in his role as Nuno’s assistant at Valencia.

Whatever happens this season, there will be plenty of drama and entertainment to enjoy, both on and off the pitch from the Coaches.  

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