Although some have doubted the validity of the idea that those who perform worse during their playing careers ultimately go on to be better football Coaches, the case of Girona boss Pablo Machin is proof of that. After a five-year playing career, which saw him hang up his boots at just 23 years of age, Machin continued working in football with Numancia, a club where he spent five years as player before returning as a youth Coach for six years from the year 2000 onwards.
It was from where the trainer would develop and learn his trade, soon making the step up from Numancia’s youth setup to the club’s B team, where he had spent his first season as a professional during the 1993-94 season, before leading his side’s reserves to the playoffs in 06-07.
His success certainly did not go unnoticed as Machin went from strength to strength, gradually progressing up the ladder at his beloved Numancia, first as an assistant with the first team for four seasons, before replacing the fired Juan Carlos Unzue as first-team Coach in May 2011.
The 42-year-old led the team to solid, mid-table finishes in his two seasons at the helm, but after Girona came calling, the Catalans having sacked former boss Javi Lopez, he would leave Numancia for pastures new for the first time in both his playing and coaching career.
However, in what have may originally been viewed as a risky move for the relatively-untested Coach, tasked with keeping the Blanquiavermell up in March 2014, a win percentage of 53.85 percent ultimately did with several games to spare, earning Machin a two-year contract extension, with both his and the club’s sights firmly set on much more than Segunda safety.
Consequently, their collective aims of survival were quickly transformed as Machin led Girona to a record points total in 14-15, only to be narrowly beaten to promotion by Sporting Gijon after a surprise, final day draw, which ultimately halted the club’s charge to the top.
In the season that followed, despite a poor start under Machin which would hinder Girona’s chances of ascension a year later, their form towards the end of the campaign not only perhaps kept the tactician in his job but also provided firm foundations for the Montilivi outfit to, at long last, do the unthinkable and gain promotion to the Spanish top flight.
After obtaining an impressive win record of 46.62% at the club prior to the start of the 17-18 season, it could be said that Machin has not only exceeded expectations but also perhaps exceeded those gained during his short playing career. Similarly, no matter what his first term in La Liga may throw at him, his reputation as the man that eventually led Girona to the holy grail of Spanish football means he will never been forgotten by fans that the club are right to keep him on.
Image courtesy gironafc.cat
Words: Adam Selby