Every new season promises new beginning and a start of an exciting challenge which was the expectation of Los Rojiblancos supporters for the 2018-19 season with the arrival of Pablo Machin as the new head coach. The former Numancia and Girona boss was instrumental in Girona’s rise and promotion to the top flight and they did have a decent first season in the primera division. He led the club to an impressive tenth position, only seven points shy of a European competition spot and that was enough to convince the Andalusia club that he was the new young manager that can lead them. Machin signed a two year deal with Sevilla, started off brightly and at the end of November – 13 weeks into the 2018-19 Spanish league season, Los Nervionenses sat proudly at the top of the table. Four weeks later, the wheels were wobbly and they had dropped two spots. In an eight-week poor run between January and March, Sevilla lost in the league six times and dropped even further to sixth. Machin was relieved off his duty and Sevilla managed to finish the season sixth under Joaquin Capparos.
The club decided to restructure and reposition themselves for the new season (2019-20). The first recruitment was reappointing former Sporting Director Monchi. The next move was appointing a coach to make build a strong team that can compete. Former Spain and Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui was appointed. Life comes at you fast. There’s no man in football better placed to back up that cliche than Julen Lopetegui. On the eve of his first World Cup game as Spain manager, he was sacked after word leaked out that he had agreed to become the new Real Madrid manager. After he emerged from the plane home from Russia looking lonely and he said it was one of the worst days of his life. Fast forward four months in the same year and Lopetegui was again on the receiving end of his marching orders from his employers who had cost him his World Cup job.
Both Monchi and Lopetegui have been handed a second chance following disappointments in their last endeavors. The former needs no introduction to the club as his previous sterling work speaks for itself while the latter is one with more bruised ego and reputation. However, both have taken their new job with the right desire and enthusiasm to succeed. Many in Rome still point accusing fingers at Monchi for Roma’s failed 2018-19 season; his poor recruitments were reasons why the Giallorossi’s failed to replicate the success of the season before and ultimately failed to qualify for Champions League. Lopetegui took over from Zidane who step down after winning three consecutive Champions League titles but the former Spain manager didn’t have Cristiano Ronaldo and his goals.
Sevilla have always trusted Monchi in the transfer market and it is no surprise that this summer the Spanish director and the club has brought in 15 players in and 14 players out. For every Pablo Sarabia that left, a Rony Lopes comes in to replace him. With Wissam Ben Yedder and Luis Murrel leaving, Luuk de Jong, Munas Dabbur and Chicharito have arrived to provide options in attack. Highly rated Jules Kounde is in to replace experienced Simon Kjaer. Monchi has brought in players Lopetegui approves and can work with.
The Spanish coach is known to favor possession based football and loves to build from the back. In Diego Carlos and Kounde, he has central defenders who can play out from the back with flyingfull backs in Sergio Reguillon and Jesus Navas. Joan Jordan is the kind of player who can unlock a defence for Lopetegui and he could play in a more advanced role than both Fernando and Banega. He is a dribbling, passing, energetic player with box-to-box qualities. The Spaniard can add something in attack and defence. In Oliver Torres, the former Porto boss has an Isco-like player whom he has worked with in the past but the maverick footballer can impress and frustrate in equal measure. Finding the right balance between when to use him and the right system in attack is important. Nolito, Lopes, Dabbur, Munir, Chicharito, De Jong, Vazquez, etc are some of the attacking in the ranks for Lopetegui to use in executing his plans game by game in this season.
It has been a good summer of business conducted by Monchi; the fans are excited and that has seen a rise in season ticket holders’ subscription for the season. The foundation for a productive season has been laid and the good relationship between Monchi and Lopetegui is vital. Time will decide how long this new found partnership in Andalusia with foster and blossom. Los Rojiblancos have started the season on a decent note, winning the first two on the road and a draw at home to leave them third on the table with seven points. September is an important month in the season’s calendar; they have five matches including one Europa League game in Azerbaijan against FK Qarabag. Real Madrid and Real Sociedad will be visiting Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan while Sevilla have road trips to Eibar and face Deportivo Alaves on Sunday at Mendizorrotza Stadium.