Time exists as an odd actuality for top-flight football managers. It’s an obvious necessity for any ambitious gaffer, yet it increasingly exists as rare luxury in the cutthroat economic wasteland that is soccer management. Rather than being issued as a tool to make something truly great, it’s issued to new hires in the form of sand in an hourglass.
You want more of time? Start winning. You can’t win without more time? Not our problem. And we wonder why these old guys are so crabby in post-game interviews. It’s possible that they’re simply crunched for time.
Despite the global opinion of being a fertile habitat for football development, La Liga is no stranger to the managerial cycle of change. On Monday, following a 4-0 loss to Getafe — a defeat that’s left Las Palmas in 19th place — newly promoted Las Palmas ousted their ultra-experienced manager Paco Herrera. Herrera was given the position in July of 2014 before leading the Canaries straight to promotion from Spain’s Segunda.
Las Palmas are now a Primera team for the first time in 14 years, and the man who spearheaded that glorious charge is gone because of a timid start to the campaign. Herrera, who’s managed all over Spain for a quarter of a century, has been replaced by lower division journeyman boss Quique Setien.
Over in San Sebastian, David Moyes must be looking over his shoulder every five minutes.
Despite a lackluster start to their Liga campaign, Real Sociedad have decided to stick with Moyes as their manager, at least for now. Following back-to-back defeats to Malaga and Atletico Madrid, media and fan scrutiny is beginning to pile on the Scottish boss, who was pegged to excel this time around after undergoing a full preseason with the club. Moyes and La Real travel to Levante, another struggling side, this weekend.
Although these might be the most combustible, tense managerial situations are far from unique at the moment in Spain.
At Real Madrid, Rafa Benitez is being repeatedly hounded over his team’s lack of attacking zeal. In Barcelona, Luis Enrique is being put to the sword by diehard supporters over the (non)promotion of promising youth players amidst hordes of injuries. And in Sevilla, Unai Emery is having to answer for why his Europa League-winning side has only amassed nine points in eight Liga matches.
Each of these cases reveal an improper raising of expectations by everyone and for everyone, across the board in La Liga. It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting on Mount Olympus or drowning in Hades, what’s expected always tends to be just beyond their grasp. And they’ll rarely ever be given enough time to make up that already uneven ground.
To be fair to the powers that be at Las Palmas and Real Sociedad, both sides have notched just a single league win apiece; the Canaries reside in the drop zone with La Real gently hovering above in 16th place. These are both unequivocally disastrous starts, although they’re not without logical reasoning.
After all, as a newly promoted side, Las Palmas could’ve been expected to struggle at some point during their Primera campaign. While Sociedad have encountered an unexpected voodoo in their otherwise fortress-like home stadium, the Anoeta, where they’ve yet to pick up a victory. Both teams have good enough sides on-paper, and, in the case of Las Palmas, there’s definitive proof that the system at least works.
The startling part of these two particular predicaments is, in fact, that Herrera is out of a job while Moyes still has his. Even Real Sociedad sporting director Loren verbally showed support for his manager this week when asked about the issue: ”We’re not looking for alternatives to Moyes.”
“We’re focused on improving the team, so that the performance on the pitch is what we consider the squad can give. We did not think we would have this number of points at this stage.”
When asked specifically about Moyes, Loren validated the Scot’s approach.
“I see him very focused on his work. He has ideas, and the points [total] does not change the way he works or his intensity.
“The gaffer is motivated, the team wants to do well, you see that on the pitch. It is not a lack of attitude.”
It’s quite evident that while Loren may be simply showing a strong hand in public, the pressure on Moyes is intensifying. After spending close to €40 million in the summer transfer window on bringing in sought-after talents like Jonathas and Asier Illarramendi, more was expected out of the Scot this season, who is now coming up on a full-year in charge at La Real.
In the quick-in/quick-out world of 2015 football, Moyes has been awarded a veritable king’s share of time to get things in order. Still, it doesn’t seem like it’ll be enough. Herrera could’ve saved Las Palmas. Moyes will likely not be around to do the same for Sociedad.