Top 5 Managers of the 2018/19 La Liga Season

Colin Millar by Colin Millar / 29 May 2019, 10:04

It was another action-packed campaign in the Spanish top-flight with thrills, spills and endless entertainment throughout.

We take a look at the FIVE managers who impressed more than any others this season.

Rubi (Espanyol)

Rubi led Huesca to promotion from the second tier for the first time in the club’s history in 2018 but subsequently moved to the RCDE Stadium last summer.

He inherited a squad which appeared to be massively weakened with the departures of goalkeeper Pau Lopez, full-back Aaron Martin and striker Gerard Moreno.

The Catalan club managed to find the net just 36 times in 38 league games the previous campaign with the prolific Moreno, who has now joined Villarreal, scoring 16 of those.

Rubi’s only two previous stints coaching in the top-flight – at Levante and Sporting Gijon – ended in relegation and by inheriting another unfancied squad, it appeared tough.

Yet he guided the Catalan club to European qualification for the first time in over a decade. Espanyol went unbeaten through their last nine matches of the season, including winning each of their last three, to clinch seventh place and a return to the Europa League.

Rubi is now being strongly linked to Real Betis, after the exit of Quique Setien.

Jose Bordalas (Getafe)

Under Bordalas, Getafe have gone from strength to strength. Appointed in September 2016 with the club 21st in Spain’s second tier, they ended this campaign fifth in La Liga.

They are an incredibly well-drilled, relentless and ferocious outfit, built on a budget but capable of matching and challenging the best in Spain.

Getafe only missed out on a Champions League spot on the final day of the campaign but their return to Europe is richly merited.

There is now a big challenge for Los Azulones to keep hold of their in-demand manager, who scooped a number of ‘Manager of the Year’ awards for the division - all thoroughly deserved.

Sevilla and Betis have both been linked to Bordalas - who has built a hugely successful side in his image.

 

Marcelino (Valencia)

At Christmas, Valencia were sitting 15th in La Liga and appeared to be a club in crisis. They had crashed out of the Champions League and appeared to be a side who had gone from qualifying for Europe's premier competition to potentially battling relegation. They had won just one of their opening 11 league matches and three of their first 19.

However, Los Che turned their situation around in remarkable style - winning 12 La Liga matches in the second half of the campaign to record a fourth-place finish, pipping Getafe and Sevilla to the coveted spot.

In addition to that, they reached the semi-finals of the Europa League and topped their centenary year off in style, defeating Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final.

 

Mauricio Pellegrino (Leganes)

The Argentine’s reputation in Spain is markedly different than it is in England.

His one previous season in La Liga was the 2016/17 campaign, when he guided Alaves to a top-half finish in their first year back in the top-flight while also reaching the Copa del Rey final. He subsequently joined English club Southampton, but with just eight wins in his 34 matches at the helm he was relieved of his duties.

His task at Leganes was simple - to avoid relegation and he pulled it off in style. Based in Madrid’s southern suburbs, they ended the campaign eight points clear of the drop zone and lost just 15 league games all season.

Pellegrino built the side in his image: well-drilled, defensively disciplined and hard to beat. They took points from each of Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona at Butarque - the latter of whom they defeated 2-1. Pellegrino and Leganes now both have continuity.

Gaizka Garitano (Athletic Club Bilbao)

After an opening day late victory at home to Leganes, Athletic under Eduardo Berizzo failed to win in any of their following 13 La Liga games, picking up just eight points in that timeframe.

It was December and Los Leones, who had never before been relegated, were sitting in the drop zone. They dispensed with Berizzo, who had been hired that summer, and turned to Garitano, who had been coaching the Bilbao Athletic youth team.

Garitano’s impact at the San Mames arrived instantly and the club have won 14 of the 27 matches under his tutelage.

Indeed, not only did they swiftly alleviate their fears of the drop zone but they came within one point of qualifying for a Europa League spot. In their final day defeat at Sevilla they required just a draw to guarantee their progress but one-goal down as the game ticked into injury time, they hit the post and the chance was gone.

Nonetheless, Garitano finally got the Basque giants playing to their potential and they appear to be on the match under his tutelage.

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