We often read about Coaches who are like no others, whether it be their tactical genius that astounds the Press or their motivational skills that rally the players. Several coaches these days are regarded as ‘special’, but in the case of Getafe’s new tactician Luis Garcia Plaza, calling him special can almost be described as an understatement.
Taking charge of Levante and leading them into the top flight as a side that had the lowest budget of any team in La Liga and who relied on players that either arrived for free or on loan to keep them going, Garcia created a team that was incredibly motivated, very confident and tactically organised. In spite of a difficult start to the season that included three defeats from the opening three games, and two of those 4-1 reverses, Levante eventually pulled clear of the relegation battle they were expected to be a part of as early as March.
Playing with a strong defence that managed to concede less than teams that qualified for the Europa league and an attack that always capable of creating chances, and feeding off of the confidence of Felipe Caicedo’s presence in attack, Los Granotes upset several clubs last season and earned their survival. It can be considered quite the feat with regards it came off the back of a transfer and wage budget not stretching beyond a seven-figure sum, and the club’s view that many referring errors counted against them last term.
Tactically, Garcia’s aptitude earned prominence when his side defeated Villarreal at El Madrigal, making Levante the first team to manage so in 2010-11. Whilst securing the three points by just the single goal, Garcia’s men created several chances that only required better finishing to have further punished the Yellow Submarine, a side who themselves last term had the reputation for an excellent style of play.
Further impressive results, including a string of 1-0 and 2-0 wins, and both beating Atletico Madrid and holding Real Madrid to a draw at Estadi Ciutat de Valencia encouraged the Press to name Garcia as Coach of the Season. However, tactics aside, this is a man whose work inside the dressing room needs to be studied.
Rather than simply rallying the troops or showing videos of where the players went wrong and how they can improve, Garcia appealed to their compassionate nature to remind them of their unique blessings in the hope of encouraging more determined performances. A perfect example of this is when he showed his side a video of Team Hoyt – an inspirational story of a father and son who compete together in marathons and triathlons across the country, managing to accomplish great things despite physical disabilities.
The purpose of playing such videos is to demonstrate how much man is capable of accomplishing regardless of the overwhelming obstacles that may lay ahead of him. Forcing his players to appreciate not only form and fitness but their potential for more, the squad was undoubtedly moved by such motivational tactics and took to playing each game with renewed vigour.
Having accomplished great things with Levante, his arrival at Getafe this summer represents the fulfilment of a dream. Infamous for his ambitious nature and desire to keep growing, Garcia reportedly paid the €1m rescission clause in his Levante contract with Levante to make the switch to Madrid, interestingly making this the third time he has splashed the cash to break a contract. In 2006, he paid Villarreal B to sign with Elche and it happened again in 2008 when he left Benidorm to sign with Levante.
Having longed desired a move to a club whose ambitions reflect his own, Getafe on paper, appears to be the right choice. Looking to improve dramatically from their performances last season, many were sceptical of their real ambitions when it appeared they were selling off their best players. However, arrivals such as Spain’s Under-21 captain Pablo Sarabia demonstrate a new-found intent.
Likely to deploy either a 4-4-2 formation or a 4-2-3-1, Garcia will spend most of his time working on the fragile defence that conceded consistently last season. Whether or not he manages to climb new heights at a new club with fans more expectant than before remains to be seen, but such ambitious men rarely fail in their quest for success.