The 2022/23 season of the major European football leagues is coming to an end, and it’s time for evaluations. Some teams have disappointed with their performance and failed to achieve their goals, while others exceeded expectations and achieved strong results and high rankings.
As usual, a large number of clubs have changed their coaches in search of change. It will be the coaches who will either bask in glory or get the big towel. That’s how it’s been and how it will be.
This season we are witnessing a unique comeback of one of the strong coaching schools – that of Italy. In addition to having a sure finalist in the Champions League for the first time in six years, three of the remaining four coaches in the tournament are Italian.
And while it is not unusual for this country to generate strong coaches who practice winning football, representatives of a small region in northern Spain have made a real furor.
Of course, we’re talking about the Basque autonomous region, known for its proud inhabitants and unyielding spirit. This season, coaches of Basque origin have really performed at a very high level and impressed with their incredible qualities.
Here we go:
When Arsenal appointed Mikel Arteta, a coach from San Sebastian, as Unai Emery’s replacement in 2019, it was a big gamble given his lack of prior managerial experience, apart from his three-year stint as Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Manchester City. However, Arteta made an impressive start, winning both the FA Cup and Community Shield. Despite this, Arsenal’s inconsistency over the past decade resurfaced, leading to calls for Arteta’s dismissal. Nevertheless, the management remained steadfast in their support for the coach, and it has paid dividends. This season, Arsenal have been playing some of their strongest football in years, remaining in contention for the title despite losing a significant lead. They continue to play an attacking and enjoyable style of football reminiscent of the turn of the millennium, earning them many admirers. Regardless of whether they win the title or not, Arsenal’s significant progress this season can be attributed to their Basque coach, Mikel Arteta.
The Europa League specialist didn’t leave a good impression during his first stint in England. As the head of Arsenal, Emery struggled to fill the shoes of the legendary Arsene Wenger and will be remembered for his crushing defeat in the final of the second strongest European tournament against Chelsea. However, another Albion club, Aston Villa, has decided to give him a chance. The team had a rocky start to the season, resulting in manager Steven Gerrard being fired and the owners turning to Emery. At the time, Villa was in 16th place, just three points above the relegation zone. But Emery managed to turn the team’s season around and now they’re in a heated battle for a spot in European tournaments. Since Emery’s appointment, Villa’s statistics have been impressive – 13 wins, 3 draws, and only 5 losses (against Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, and Arsenal). It’s no surprise that Unai is living up to his reputation and making a breakthrough in the Europa League this fall.
Jose Luis Mendilibar
He is the third coach for Sevilla this season, and the only one who has brought a positive change to the team. He arrived at “Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan” when the team was in a very dangerous position, threatened with relegation. However, in just 8 modest matches leading the team in La Liga, the Basque coach managed to record 5 wins and 2 draws with only 1 loss, securing the Andalusians’ participation in the top tier for next season. Additionally, he managed to eliminate Manchester United from the Europa League and qualified Sevilla for the semifinals, where the team will compete against Juventus for a place in the final.
Imanol Alguacil may not be a household name for those who don’t follow Spanish football closely, but he’s been the head coach of Real Sociedad since 2018, having worked for the club since 2011. Under his guidance, Real Sociedad has qualified for European competition three times in a row, and this season, they’re likely to finish in the top four and secure a place in the Champions League for the first time in a decade. The team is currently in fourth place, tied on points with third-placed Real Madrid and fifth-placed Villarreal, just seven points behind the leaders. Even if they miss out on a Champions League spot, it’s been an exceptional season for the club, with their victory over Manchester United in the Europa League group stages being just one highlight among many.
Considered one of the smartest midfielders of the past two decades, seems to have a promising future as a coach. After retiring from his successful playing career, he became the coach of the reserve team of his hometown club, Real Sociedad. Unexpectedly in October, he was offered a huge challenge – to turn around the struggling Bayer Leverkusen. The team had a terrible start to the season, with only one win in the first 8 games and found themselves in the relegation zone. However, with Alonso at the helm, the team made a remarkable turnaround and is currently in 6th place in the league with a chance to break into the top 4. Even if they fall short, qualifying for Europe after their poor start would be an impressive achievement. Additionally, Bayer is also in the semi-finals of the Europa League, and could potentially win the trophy – something they haven’t done in 30 years.