La Liga Daily: Ferreira out, Pellegrini in at Malaga

Malaga sacked Jesualdo Ferreira on Tuesday evening in a bid to turnaround a poor start to the season that has left the side languishing in 18th in La Liga.

The weekend’s 2-1 home defeat to relegation candidates Real Sociedad was the final straw for the club’s owners, having spent the season to date watching a side short on discipline pick up three red cards and concede 21 goals in the opening nine games. The home reverse to Martin Lasarte’s Sociedad summed up Los Boquerones’ season to date: outclassed, outfought and outthought by a side with a modest budget, minimal expectations and seven players aged 25 or younger on the pitch.

Having spent heavily in the off-season, former Porto Coach Ferreira was thought of as a high-profile Coach with the experience and successful past to unite the group, with the original season target of pushing aside last year’s relegation battle towards a higher top-half league-table challenge.

The weekend’s defeat left Malaga in 18th and only three points better off than this stage last season, a campaign that saw the side hovering around the relegation zone for its duration. There was a feeling in recent weeks that the dressing room was not taking to Ferreira’s system of play – the struggles in defence are reflective of this – and the failure to adapt to the Portuguese Coach’s 4-3-3 tactic saw results and then confidence in the formation slip.

Ferreira saw the issues himself, citing earlier in the season a general naivety to the squad’s approach as the reason, saying defensively the players were not aggressive enough, and tactically not mature enough to take on board his instructions. Without a win since mid-September and having lost all five home games – admittedly Sociedad aside, a tough run of opponents – Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani decided to act, with a readymade replacement seemingly already lined up.

The League’s (now-formerly) third highest paid Coach Ferreira is expected to be replaced by Manuel Pellegrini, the Chilean returning to the game after last year’s record-breaking, albeit trophyless, year with Real Madrid. The 57-year-old, who has been offered a two-and-a-half year contract at the Rosaleda, made his name at Villarreal, creating from a high budget a team with core principles of efficient, entertaining usage of the ball. There is a verbal agreement between the parties, with Pellegrini expected to finalise details before signing today.

A settlement on Ferreira’s €5m contract that still had two-and-a-half years to run can now be added to Al-Thani’s projected initial investment of €70m across several areas of the club.

In a rare interview with the Press three weeks ago, Abdullah Al-Thani’s said: “Whatever is required to develop the team will be taken into account. We came to Malaga on a mission. It is not about whether we like it or not, because the club does not belong only to us. It is currently our responsibility though and we must manage it properly so that it reaches the set goals.”

The owner spoke of giving his Coach the time needed to build a team from a group of players that has been together for just two months. With results going against Ferreria, time is now given over for Pellegrini’s reign to begin.

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