Eight weeks ago, Levante announced that Javier Pereira would be the man they entrusted to turn their season around after a dreadful start. Under Paco Lopez, they had drawn four and lost four of their opening eight La Liga matches.
The hangover from the end of last season was not clearing, and President Quico Catalan took the tough decision to dispense with the man who had saved them from relegation, taken them to the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey and created an attractive attacking identity for the team. Hindsight has proven that this was at best premature and at worst a grave error of judgement.
Now, a mere 53 days after his arrival, Pereira has gone too. Significantly, so too have the sporting directors who made the choice to hire him. Catalan clearly feels some regret at pulling the trigger on Lopez as early as he did.
Sacking Paco López was a big mistake.
Under him, Levante had style and character, but didn't pick up the points.
Under Pereira, Levante lost any sense of style and character… and didn't pick up the points.
President Quico Catalan has lost his shield. Fingers pointed at him. pic.twitter.com/qjpYRBloOg
— Paco Polit (in English 🇬🇧🇺🇸) (@pacopolitENG) November 29, 2021
Their fortunes have not improved – Levante have registered just three draws in Pereira’s seven games, leaving Las Granotas rooted to the foot of the table. Furthermore, any identity Levante maintained has all but evaporated, and despite leading at half time against Real Betis at the Benito Villamarin on Sunday, as soon as they conceded the equaliser there was an inevitability about the final outcome.
The lengthy board meeting which went on late into the night produced a radical outcome. There now needs to be a review of the entire sporting structure, although Catalan did tell local reporters that he hadn’t considered bringing Lopez back, as Villarreal did with Javi Calleja a couple of seasons ago.
🔥⚽️“Es la primera vez que marco 4 goles en un partido”
— Cantera Levante UD (@CanteraGranota) November 30, 2021
For now, their interim coach will be Alessio Lisci, coach of Atletico Levante, their B team. His first challenge will be to navigate their Copa match against Huracan Melilla, and then it is likely he will stay in charge for the game against Osasuna. Should they fail to win that match, they will equal an unwanted historical record – 24 consecutive league games without a win – currently held by Sporting Gijon from back in 1997/98.
The good news is that Lisci, a UEFA Pro licensed coach in his own right, has overseen an emphatic win as recently as last weekend. Atletico Levante won 7-1 away at Marchamalo. Lisci may be tempted to bring through some of those players to inject some confidence and energy into a team clearly weighed down by the mental fatigue of the situation and playing well below its potential. One such inclusion could be Omar Faraj, the 19-year-old Swede who scored four of the seven goals last weekend. He may get his chance in the Copa and it might be worth a punt to throw him in, something he has said he aspires to.
To put it bluntly, things can hardly get much worse for the club, given their torrid form and self-inflicted turbulence behind the scenes. They faced a similar scenario back in 2017/18, which they resolved by appointed the coach of the B team, Lopez himself. Maybe, just maybe, history can repeat itself with Lisci, and at this stage, it is surely worth a try.