Monchi sets out on new challenge after impressive reign as Sevilla sporting director
It was a significant weekend in La Liga as Real Madrid dropped two points in the Madrid derby, thanks to Antoine Griezmann’s late equalizer for Atletico. Barcelona failed to capitalize and was beaten 2-0 at Malaga and had Neymar sent off in the process. The most significant story involved fourth-placed Sevilla: there were tears when Ramon Rodriguez Verdejo saw the sign made in his honor outside Sevilla’s Ramon Pizjuan stadium. The sign read: Glory eternal. Legend Sevillista.
Verdejo, better known as Monchi, has been Sevilla’s sporting director for 17 years, but Saturday was his last game in charge. In that period, the club has won 11 trophies–each one marked with a replica trophy displayed on the pitch before the game–and earned millions in sell-on fees from the talents he has discovered.
It was appropriate that Stevan Jovetic, his final signing–No. 151–should score the opening goal in Sevilla’s 4-1 win over Deportivo. Pablo Sarabia, probably Monchi’s best deal of last summer, also scored.
Monchi is one of the leading sporting directors of his generation. He recently told Radio Marca his favorite team of players he had signed and it was this: Palop; Dani Alves, Navarro, Escude, Adriano; Rakitic, Poulsen, Banega, Renato; Fabiano, Kanoute. Not bad, and plenty of quality players–among them Seydou Keita, Geoffrey Kondogbia and Carlos Bacca–failed to make the cut.
How will Sevilla cope? In the short-term, there are concerns that coach Jorge Sampaoli, said to be on the wanted list as Argentina national coach and a potential candidate for the Barcelona job, might not stay, while midfielder Steven Nzonzi is set for an elite-club move.
Monchi has not yet confirmed his next move, though reports from Italy suggest he will become Roma’s sporting director; Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal have also been linked. Monchi was a player at Sevilla and understood the club from top to bottom. He knew what made it tick.
Dr. Dan Parnell, who teaches a course in sporting directorship at Manchester Metropolitan University, defines the role as being “the guardian of the club’s future, to protect the owner’s investment and bring on-field success through effective leadership and decision making in the short, medium and long-term.” Or as Monchi put it: “No one takes a ‘what great economic results’ banner to the stadium.”
We know that the Monchi method works in Seville; but is it transferable? Can he be just as successful elsewhere, in a new league with different demands? Monchi is pushing himself to a new and tougher challenge. As a leading sporting director, if he is successful, expect more clubs to devote more resources to recruiting the experts who recruit the players.