Who will win La Liga'™s Sack Race?

Tim Stannard on the coaches fearing for their future

These days, managers in La Liga tend to last considerably longer than the old stereotype of being in the job for a matter of hours. Back in the day, a wrong look to the cigar-chomping owner - or refusal to play David Beckham - could see a coach'™s goose cooked within seconds of a campaign beginning.
Managers tend to see their contracts honoured these days, partly because complete financial catastrophe has made expensive sacking less attractive, and partly because modern contracts rarely stretch beyond a season or two anyway.

Last year, the first casualty was a little out of the blue with Espanyol firing Mauricio Pochettino, who later set sail for Southampton instead. However, the Argentinian lasted until the end of November. After that, there is a normally a spate of panic firings around the winter break, but normally everyone gets a reasonable time to make their mistakes.

LLL has a feeling that everyone will once again have a decent crack of the whip, but there are always going to be some casualties in La Liga, so here are three possible imminent jobseekers.

Jagoba Arrasate - Real Sociedad
The blog has an awful lot of time for La Real and would dearly like to be wrong on this prediction. However, LLL feels it is going to strike a rare home run. The 35-year-old worked as an assistant under former manager Philippe Montanier, but has zero top-flight experience. Of course, this hasn't been a problem for coaches in the past, but the challenge at Real Sociedad is a huge undertaking.

The first big games will be the Champions League qualifiers, which could see all of last year'™s hard work go up in smoke within three hours in late August. Even if everything goes tickety-boo, La Real will have domestic and continental campaigns running side-by-side; Malaga managed it last season, but their coach Manuel Pellegrini had an awful lot of experience and grey hair to back him up. The new man in Anoeta doesn't have this luxury. LLL wishes Arrasate all the luck in the work, but feels the worst may happen.
LLL Special Sacking Odds: 4-1

Francisco Rodri­guez - Almeri­a
Almeri­a's return to la Primera via the play-offs was soured a little by the departure of the coach who got them there: Javi Gracia jumped ship, saying that he 'œdidn't feel valued' at the club. 'œI wasn't prepared to start off on the wrong foot and spend the year angry,' admitted Gracia on a few contractual issues with his bosses.

Almeri­a have opted to promote B-team coach Francisco Rodri­guez, who at the age of 34 becomes the youngest manager in La Primera. The challenge for Rodri­guez is not as tough as that of his counterpart in San Sebastian, so the Almeri­a man has slightly more chance of hanging onto his post. But only just.
LLL Special Sacking Odds: 7-1

Unai Emery - Sevilla
Uncertainty here is not exactly the fault of Lord Unai himself. Sevilla were already struggling with the likes of Jesus Navas and Alfredo Negredo in the ranks; Navas has gone to Manchester City and it looks ever more likely that he'll be followed out of the Sanchez Pizjuan door by Negredo, who bagged 25 league goals last season.

Given the pair's experience and usefulness, and the subsequent possibility of other talented team members stampeding for the door, it's hard not to see another season of struggle for Sevilla. And that normally ends up with the coach being sacked by Jose Mari­a del Nido, a club president who talks the talk about long-term projects but often leaves the walking to his lackeys.
LLL Special Sacking Odds: 12-1


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