Marcelino still lurking in the shadows after his shock sacking

Celtic supporters should keep an eye out to see if Marcelino Garcia enters the frame for the post of new Celtic Manager. Two years ago Marcelino was widely seen as the best of the sparkling new generation of Spanish coaches. He was rated ahead of the likes of

  • Roberto Martinez at Swansea, whose work there interested Celtic
  • Unai Emery who had taken small Almeria to the La Liga and kept them there in a very respectable 8th place
  • a young Guardiola just starting his managerial career with the Barcelona B Team.

Marcelino’s reputation was based on two seasons work with Recreativo where he won the Second Division title then took them to record high placing of 8th in their first season back in La Liga. He then moved to Racing Santander and in one season led them to an amazing and record-breaking 6th place finish, and qualification for the UEFA Cup for the first time in their history. Both Recreativo, now in the Second Division, and Racing have declined dramatically since he moved on.

This wonderful record brought Valencia knocking on the door and it seemed Marcelino would definitely be their manager for season 2008-2009. However the confused state of the club and the awareness of its massive debts led to contractual complications and when Marcelino didn’t get the assurances he asked for, he left and was replaced by Unai Emery. Maybe Marcelino got that choice right, given what has happened to Emery and the fact that despite leading Valencia to Europa League Quarter-finals and an almost certain 3rd place in La Liga with automatic qualification for next year’s Champions League, his contract is unlikely to be renewed for next season. What planet do some of these Directors live on, where a record like that is not seen as good enough for a club strapped by hundreds of millions of euros debt!

In the end Marcelino accepted an offer from traditional big club Zaragoza to take over and lead them out of the Second Division to which they had just been relegated. He succeeded in this aim and Zaragoza ended season 2008-2009 as Champions, adding to Marcelino’s impressive credentials.

However season 2009-2010 was not to follow the normal successful Marcelino pattern. Zaragoza’s financial problems did not allow him to strengthen the team as much as he would have liked and uncharacteristically he wasted much of his limited budget on securing English flop Jermaine Pennant from Liverpool. The team struggled from the start and never played the good consistent football associated with Marcelino teams. It was still something of a surprise when he was suddenly sacked in mid-December with the team out off the three bottom relegation places.. New manager Gay took drastic action, dumping much of the Marcelino team and bringing in no less than 7 players in the January transfer window. Results have improved only slightly but the new team are harder, and therefore harder to beat. Although not currently in the bottom three they are still not clear of the relegation battle and it is too early to say whether or not the gamble of deserting Marcelino will prove to have been successful.

Marcelino will survive this setback. His overall record is really quite sensational. His calm, rational and scientific approach to management has marked him out as one of the most thoughtful of young managers utilising modern technology and modern knowledge to maximise the impact of his efforts. Given that the Celtic Directorate reckoned that getting a team relegated was a suitable qualification for the Celtic job last summer, then Marcelino’s recent record of almost getting a team relegated should make him an even stronger candidate than Mowbray was.

GGW would be very certain that Marcelino would do a better job of managing Celtic than Mowbray did, and has exactly the kind of record with players not of the very top class that would be relevant for the Celtic job. In addition he has the knowledge and expertise and modern techniques that might help bring Celtic into the 21st Century in terms of approach and preparation of players.

The other alternative Spanish candidate for the Celtic job could be Unai Emery whose record with Valencia might be better appreciated by Celtic bosses than it appears to be by those of the Valencia club. Both Marcelino and Emery are probably rated higher by most of the more informed Spanish football pundits than Roberto Martinez is, and Celtic gave him serious consideration. Celtic could do far worse than seriously consider appointing either of this Spanish duo.