In a recent poll in Spain, followers of the national team were asked who they’d most like to see succeed Vicente Del Bosque as manager. Jason Pettigrove makes a case for someone you may not have heard of…
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Rayo Vallecano’s Paco Jemez won the hypothetical vote by a landslide which is hardly surprising.
“The Lightning” as they are also known are a throwback to a time when there was still a sense of romanticism in football. When the corporate euro didn’t oil the wheels of the modern game.
Jemez is a genius and no mistake. Year in and year out, the manager survives on the most miniscule of transfer budgets and a mass summer exodus that would send most others straight over the edge.
That he does so whilst keeping his teams competitive and playing attractive football is to his immense credit. It is also perhaps why many followers of La Liga have come to have a soft spot for Rayo.
Take last weekend as particular case in point. Rayo turned up at the Camp Nou having lost their last nine games home and away to Barcelona. Not only that, but the visitors had scored just twice in those fixtures and conceded 37.
With that record in mind, it would be a fair assumption that Rayo would grind out a point with a backs-against-the-wall performance.
Not with Jemez in charge!
In-keeping with his modus operandi of not wanting his staff to play with fear and to play the ball out from the back rather than a punt up-field which immediately hands possession to their opponents, Rayo took the game to Barca.
The opening goal was a just reward for a magnificent spell where Rayo’s players were given licence to express themselves – as per usual.
The final score of 5-2 to the Catalans flattered the hosts somewhat. On another day, Rayo could’ve had at least two more goals.
There is perhaps an argument that against the biggest sides in the division, Jemez should stop adopting what some see as a kamikaze attitude. But of course, let’s be clear, football remains an entertainment business.
While the game continues to be sanitised to such an extent as to often strangle the life out of it, Jemez and Rayo are a breath of fresh air for many.
Sticking to your principles no matter what the cost is laudable and there is a certain honesty to the same which is endearing.
La Liga will certainly be a poorer place without Jemez in it, but Spaniards can at least take heart that he won’t be totally lost to them if selected as Del Bosque’s successor.
It would be a worthy and deserved accolade.
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