Why are no English clubs interested in Paco Jemez?by Colin Millar / 28 November 2017, 15:57Tweet
Fans of La Liga have been put on alert by the news of Paco Jemez’s departure from the managerial position at Cruz Azul.
The 47-year-old joined the Mexican club a year ago but has decided to call time on his spell in Mexico City and return to Europe, with La Liga once again the most likely destination for the often fiery and always entertaining manager.
But why are no English clubs interested in his signature?
Earlier this year, Club America boss Ricardo La Volpe aimed a thinly-veiled attack at the Spaniard ahead of their side’s meeting: "I'm not one to talk about other managers as I respect them, but those who are sent over to Mexico and are full of hot air.”
Jemez responded in typically outspoken nature:
"I'll say to Ricardo La Volpe that if he has anything to say to me on Saturday, before or after the game, then he can accompany me to a quiet secluded spot, where no-one can see us, where no-one can bother us and then we'll sort out our differences like men!"
Most famed for his four-year stint at Rayo Vallecano, the former Spain international - who appeared at Euro 2000 - said of being successful in the sport: “All you need to play football is one ball and two bollocks.” His humour and authenticity endeared him to supporters and players alike as did his dedicated to principles of high-pressing, high-tempo football with players being told to express themselves, to take risks and to excite the fans.
This heart-stopping brand of football can be described as ‘all or nothing’ - a draw is closer to a defeat than a victory, after all. Jemez’s chose his personal message on Whatsapp during his stint at Rayo to be: “The only satisfaction to be derived from losing is knowing that you did all you could to win.” Predictably, this attitude has won Jemez and Rayo the hearts of many neutrals.
It’s an admirable philosophy but one that has brought with it many crushing defeats. In the 2014-15 campaign, 6-1 losses were suffered at Barcelona and Celta Vigo, 5-1 at Real Madrid, 4-0 at Malaga, along with defeats at Sevilla, Valencia and Atletico. They also conceded four against both Villarreal and Real Sociedad.
Jemez explains this by blaming the application and execution of the ideas, rather than the ideas themselves. At the Bernabeu, Rayo won 54% of the possession and registered only one less effort on goal. Against Barcelona, Rayo managed an average of 46% possession against the kings of ball retention.
The following year, the nadir arrived as his side crumbled to a 10-2 defeat at Madrid after two of the visiting players were dismissed inside the opening thirty minutes. Whilst defeat was inevitable, the nature of it would have crushed players who were not made of stern stuff.
Jemez doesn’t let other sides dictate how his side plays, he takes them on his way. They may have conceded 11 goals at the Nou Camp and the Bernabeu in his penultimate season, but he had no complaints as his side played his way. Besides, due to head-to-head records being decisive in league finishes rather than goal difference in Spain, the tangible damage of such defeats is greatly reduced - it allows more expansive styles to be showcased.
Occasionally this audacity can pay off, four months after their 10-goal humiliation at the Bernabeu, they raced into an early two-goal lead at home to Zinedine Zidane’s side, who were in pursuit of the title, but eventually lost 3-2 to a Gareth Bale-inspired Madrid.
The following month, Rayo were eventually relegated from the top flight (although typically they went down fighting, with a 3-1 win against Levante) but Jemez was in high-demand before eventually joining Granada. His move came at a turbulent time for the Andalucians as Chinese firm Link International Sports bought the club and reorganised it from top to bottom.
It was a disaster waiting to happen; before the season started, Jemez complained that players were being signed without his approval and after each of the first six games he questioned his suitability for the role after collecting only two points. He was not to get a seventh match as he received what he was asking for – the sack. Granada did not improve all season and were relegated officially with three games remaining.
Jemez is different, he can pull a rabbit from a hat. His Rayo side constantly punched above their weight in the top flight - across his four seasons only once did the club spend a transfer fee for a new signing. He is enigmatic and totally unwavering in his dedication to strong footballing philosophies of possession, pressing and taking risks.
Tony Pulis, Alan Pardew, Martin O’Neill and Sam Allardyce are currently names being linked to a number of vacancies in the English top flight. Other recent appointments include David Moyes and Roy Hodgson. All seen as ‘a safe pair of hands’, managers who can come in and do a short-term job of stabilising results.
Not only is spectacular football not guaranteed, but it is actively discouraged. The fear of losing often trumps the ambition to win and to better yourselves. Style is substituted for staleness and ultimately, pragmatism verging on ultra conservatism will win the day. Clubs want to avoid relegation at all costs, and no risks with the ‘unknown’ can be taken.
Maybe if clubs showed the courage that Jemez demands of his own teams, the Premier League would be a much more interesting and entertaining place.