Girona are enjoying what has to be regarded as an enormously successful season so far. After finally making it through the playoffs in Segunda to win promotion back to La Liga, Michel Sanchez has taken them 12th so far, with 26 points from their 24 games. While that may only be four points away from the drop zone, the intense competition at the bottom is more responsible for that than their points total.
However it is not just their good position in the table which has been impressive. Although they have the fourth-worst defence in the league, Girona also have the third-best attack in the division, with 38 goals to their name.
Speaking to Relevo as part of a wide-ranging interview with Albert Blaya Sensat and Alex Corral, Michel admitted that he had come on since the last time he was in La Liga.
“There is an evolution for me as a coach from being dominant with Rayo in the Second Division to trying it in the First Division, not succeeding, and being sacked. I have been taking steps forward and this is easier in Girona, due to the support that I have always had from the club and the sports management with Quique Carcel [Sporting Director], who has highly valued my steps, knowing that I am a young coach, who has only been in professional footabll for six years, and that my impetus and hope is to always be the protagonist with the ball, but sometimes that doesn’t happen.”
“And I make mistakes, but they are more or less penalised depending on who is next to you, and in Girona I have been penalised very little because of the support I have.”
He also explained that the his capacity for empathy was one of his greatest attributes, and one that he values the most.
“You have to send a different message to each player. The power of the word is key in managing groups and I think it is one of my best virtues, because since I joined Rayo Vallecano in an extreme situation, with the team in danger of dropping to Segunda B, it was already clear to me that the player was the most important thing.”
“You can never fool the footballer, you have to be very direct but above all have a spectacular capacity for empathy. I have it with [Cristhian] Stuani, who is the most important player in the club’s history, and I have it with Joel, who is 17 years old. I have it because I know that he also has problems, that if he comes to a training session and I yell at him, he can take it in a totally different way from Stuani.”
He would go on to highlight that his experience with youth acadadmies and senior sides in different roles taught him to adapt that message, as well as highlighting how crucial the patience he has had from above its.
While things can turn south, currently that technique is paying dividends for Michel, who has put together one of the most entertaining sides in Spain, averaging more goals than anyone else per game.