“Let’s leave the issue of simplicity now. Mendi he knows a lot about soccer. He has given Allegri a bath ”. The words of a senior Sevilla official resounded forcefully while the Sánchez Pizjuán was a party. The Andalusian team had just entered their seventh Europa League final and the players celebrated the pass with the fans exultantly. Mendi I was not with them. Right after the final whistle she went into the changing rooms. “The party is for the players,” said the Basque. Like Luis Aragonés in the Euro 2008 final with Spain, beaten by Germany with a goal by Fernando Torres. José Castro, president of Sevilla, went to the Pizjuán press room to embrace the new hero of Sevilla, recruited by Monchi in an extreme situation, with Sevilla two points from relegation and on the eve of visiting Cádiz, then a direct rival for the permanence Mendilibar has not only saved the Andalusian team from any qualifying trouble with a great baggage of 19 of 24 points obtained. It is that he has put Sevilla in the final of the Europa League after eliminating Manchester United in the quarterfinals and Manchester United in the semifinals. A good part of the key, in addition to his football knowledge, also lies in the message. “He is sincere and goes face to face. He has had the ability to adapt to a very varied squad. He doesn’t get along the same way with everyone, but he has united them for the common good, ”a heavyweight from the Sevilla dressing room reveals to this medium.
Coaches of enormous prestige, in the case of Ten Hag and Allegri himself, have been defeated by this rookie in the Europa League at the age of 62, with only six European games (four with Sevilla and two with Athletic Club). What he did against Juventus will go down in history. The set of Mendi He came back from a duel against the Italian giant after making 30 shots (11 on goal) and taking 18 corners. “I feel that this is an award for a coach who has always led teams that are fighting for other awards. There are other coaches who work in small teams and this is a prize, too, for all of them”, stated the coach who has changed the face of Sevilla. A very peculiar technician who arrived for three months and whom Monchi is now considering renewing.
Mendilibar, if he has a message to give, he does it directly, without rinsing; crudely, but also without viciousness or with double intentions. Maybe that’s why players are often to death with him. Like Marko Dmitrovic, the Sevilla goalkeeper who gave up going with the Serbian team when he found out that Mendilibar, who had managed him at Eibar, would be his next coach. What did he ask of you? They asked him in an interview: “That we stop the balls, it is the basics. Simplicity. He asks the goalkeepers to stop and the strikers to score ”, and he adds:“ I knew what he was going to bring us, that he was going to hit the mark with all the players, that he was going to bring out our best version ”.
The admiration for Mendilibar extends to most of the footballers who have been under his command: “He is a great coach”, assures David Silva, “he knows what to do to get the best out of each one. We are in contact”. When the manager was sacked by Levante in 2014, he traveled to Manchester to take a closer look at City’s training methods. Silva welcomed him into his house.
Mendilibar was a footballer before he was a coach. He had class and he taught it for eight seasons at Javier Irureta’s Sestao, in the Second Division, some of them alongside Ernesto Valverde, but his teammate progressed to Espanyol, Barça, Athletic and Mallorca, and he, who He had formed in the lower categories of Athletic, he never made the leap to First Division as a player. “As a footballer I was a quince and that’s why I like players with character,” he confessed when he took his first steps as a coach. “I want players who take advantage of their qualities and, therefore, do not end up being footballers quince”.
In Seville he has managed, with simplicity, for the team to turn around completely. It is his way of working, avoiding complications: “There are training camps that look like airports, full of cones, dolls, fences, belts to drag… Just like the goalkeepers. What if tennis balls… Any day someone will start with golf balls. We are losing simplicity in football”.
In Seville he has had to change some habits, among other things because he is no longer in Zaldibar, his town, which has always been his center of operations. Of course, he already goes out to eat snails, a typical dish in the Andalusian capital at this time. When he directed Eibar, he spent very little in the club’s offices. He trained the team, a few kilometers from his house, and then studied the games at snack time. “I have a lot of free time. To prepare for a training session or a game, I don’t need the whole afternoon. The work, apart from the training, I do at home”.
Now he faces the final of the Europa League, his greatest competitive challenge as a coach, although, among the memories of his past, he always remains, “with the first victory with Arratia. It was in Bilbao, a Regional match. He returned home alone, from Bilbao to Zaldibar there are 40 kilometers, and he was bouncing in the car ”.
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