FourFourTwo’s 50 Best Football Managers in the World 2017: No.20, Marcelino
After just over three extremely successful years at Villarreal, Marcelino Garcia Toral’s relationship with the Castellon-based club came to a bitter end in August 2016. Differences between the coach and the board, plus several of his players, brought the curtain down on a terrific era.
When Marcelino first stepped into the club, they were languishing in seventh place in Spain’s second tier
Marcelino’s achievements with the club were perhaps best summed up in May 2016, as Villarreal secured a return to the Champions League via their fourth-placed finish in La Liga. It was their first dalliance with Europe’s elite competition since 2009, and came only three years after Marcelino first stepped into the club – while they were languishing seventh in Spain’s second tier.
Marcelino's brand of football is never dull: a high-tempo, counter-attacking style based on winning the ball back quickly and penetrating teams incisively. A 4-4-2 with a twist, Villarreal buzzed just like they did in Manuel Pellegrini’s heady days.
There was no fear from the Yellow Submarine, as Marcelino urged his team to grab games by the throat – all the while keeping defensive focus and achieving balance. These values are at the core of his approach to football.
A team ethic was instilled and individuals flourished as Marcelino improved young players, turned previous unknowns into La Liga stars and found a player in Bruno Soriano to carry out his methods on the pitch.
After his explosive split with Villarreal, however, and his hopes of the Spain job were dashed, Marcelino will be back in club football for the 2017/18 season - and he won’t be too far away from his old club. The 51-year-old has been tasked with one of the toughest jobs in football: Valencia manager. This might be the most impressive appointment by the club in years, though.
The Mestalla is longing for a return to glory days, and there’s genuine hope that Marcelino can provide a similar injection of organisation and counter-attacking prowess that his Villarreal side had in abundance. He might not have been away for too long, but it will still be exciting to see this coach back on a La Liga bench. Valencia expects - and Marcelino is more than capable of delivering.
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- FourFourTwo's 50 Best Football Managers in the World 2016