LaLiga Coaching Changes – The situation at every club

Jose Bordalas

LaLiga concluded in dramatic fashion last weekend with Atletico Madrid coming from behind to win the title while Real Valladolid and Huesca suffered the agony of relegation on the final day and will join Eibar in the Segunda next term. The days that follow the final matchday are always busy as clubs make decisions on whether to keep their coaches or start afresh with a new boss for the new campaign.

This year has been no exception with plenty of changes having already taken place with more announcements expected imminently. Here is the coaching situation at every LaLiga club as the managerial merry-go-round gets into full swing.


LaLiga Coaches – Who is staying & who is going?


Atletico Madrid (1st)

2020/21 Coach – Diego Simeone

Having just guided Atletico Madrid to their second league title under his guidance, Diego Simeone’s stock has risen once again in 2020/21 after a few seasons where some questions were being asked about whether he was still the right man to lead Atleti forward.

El Cholo answered most of those in emphatic fashion and it seems certain he will continue at the Wanda Metropolitano next season as Atleti seek to defend their crown with his current big money contract running until next summer.

Next Season – Diego Simeone

Real Madrid (2nd)

2020/21 Coach – Zinedine Zidane

It was announced today that Zinedine Zidane has left Real Madrid for the second time after a trophyless season with Los Blancos. His second stint at the helm was not as successful as the first but the Frenchman still won two trophies including the 2019/20 LaLiga crown to take his overall haul to 11 and he remains very much a legend in the eyes of all Real Madrid fans.

The hunt for a new boss will now begin, although with Zidane’s departure expected, it’s likely some movements have taken place behind the scenes. Having just left Serie A champions Inter Milan, Antonio Conte is a strong contender. If Florentino Perez decides to promote another club legend to the top job, he may opt for current Castilla boss Raúl. Massimilano Allegri was also viewed as a strong candidate but reports today suggest he will return to Juventus to replace Andrea Pirlo while PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino has also emerged as a contender for the Real Madrid job.

Next Season – TBD

Barcelona (3rd)

2020/21 Coach – Ronald Koeman

Ronald Koeman’s time as Barcelona boss has been something of a rollercoaster ride with a poor start to the season, followed by a period when Barça appeared to finally have direction again. A dominant showing in the Copa del Rey Final sparked talk of a new era and raised hopes of a potential domestic double, but an end of season collapse, leading to the Catalans finishing outside the top two for the first time since 2008, was very damaging for the Dutchman’s chances of carrying on.

He has reportedly already been told that Barcelona are looking for a coach to replace him. However it would cost the club €13 million to fire him, according to Sport, and with the club dealing with significant debts, keeping Koeman may prove the simplest option. That’s in part because Xavi Hernandez, who is widely expected to ultimately take over at Camp Nou, has recently extended his contract with Qatari side Al Sadd.

Next Season – TBD

Sevilla (4th)

2020/21 Coach – Julen Lopetegui

Julen Lopetegui enjoyed another successful season with Sevilla. While there was no cup glory this time around, the Andalusians were on the fringes of the title race for almost the entire campaign and ultimately set a club record top flight points tally.

It seems certain that Lopetegui will continue at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan next term and his contract has another three years to run.

Next Season – Julen Lopetegui

Real Sociedad (5th)

2020/21 Coach – Imanol Alguacil

Another coach to have really seen his stock rise in 2020/21 is Imanol Alguacil. Having guided Real Sociedad to European qualification in 2019/20, they really kicked on this term, securing Europa League qualification again whilst winning the all-Basque Copa del Rey Final – the first silverware for La Real since the 1980’s.

While there were games where his tactics were perhaps a little naive, most notably in the Europa League defeat against Manchester United, Imanol has brought both style and substance to Donostia and his team packed full of homegrown talents will get another crack at Europe next term.

Next Season – Imanol Alguacil

Real Betis (6th)

2020/21 Coach – Manuel Pellegrini

Manuel Pellegrini quietly emerged as a genuine coach of the season contender in his first campaign at Real Betis. 15th in 2019/20 under Rubi, the Seville club got better as the 2020/21 season went on, losing just twice in 2021 to ultimately secure 6th place on the final day and Europa League qualification.

Pellegrini feels like a really good fit for Betis and certainly should be at the helm to guide them into Europe next season.

Next Season – Manuel Pellegrini

Villarreal (7th)

2020/21 Coach – Unai Emery

There’s also no doubt about who will be in charge of Villarreal in 2021/22. Last summer they appointed Unai Emery, a Europa League specialist, in an attempt to secure the club’s first ever trophy. The plan worked. Wednesday’s epic penalty shootout win over Manchester United in Poland completed an unbeaten Europa League season for the Yellow Submarine and ensures Emery’s name will forever be etched into Villarreal folklore.

In LaLiga, they actually finished two places lower than last season under Javi Calleja but they will be in the Champions League next season by virtue of their victory in Gdansk and Emery will be at the helm.

Next Season – Unai Emery

Celta Vigo (8th)

2020/21 Coach – Eduardo Coudet 

After sacking Oscar Garcia in November, Celta experienced an immediate upturn in their fortunes under Chacho Coudet. Utilising a 4-1-3-2 formation, he managed to cram all of Celta’s attacking talents into the same team and the plan worked as the Galicians reeled off 4 straight league wins at the end of 2020.

Celta couldn’t ultimately push for Europe but they did win 5 of their last 6 matches and they could certainly be a team to keep an eye on next term with Coudet certain to be in charge.

Next Season – Eduardo Coudet

Granada (9th)

2020/21 Coach – Diego Martinez

Widely regarded as Spain’s brightest young coach, Diego Martinez further enhanced his reputation this season as he guided Granada to the Europa League Quarter-Finals in their debut European campaign, as well as a solid mid-table finish.

A bigger job will surely come Martinez’s way at some point in the not too distant future but in Spain at least, there don’t look to be any obvious destinations this summer. His contract is up at Los Carmenes, and Granada are anxiously waiting to find out whether he will sign a new deal with a decision expected soon.

Next Season – TBD

Athletic Club (10th)

2020/21 Coach – Marcelino

Athletic pulled off a bit of a coup by bringing in Marcelino to replace Gaizka Garitano in early January. By the time the month was out, he’d already won a trophy as Athletic won the Supercopa in Seville to give the former Valencia boss the dream start to life at San Mames.

However it would ultimately be a frustrating end to the season with too many draws in LaLiga and painful Copa del Rey Final defeats against Real Sociedad and Barcelona in April. Marcelino’s contract runs until next summer and it’ll be interesting to see what he can do with this team after a full pre-season to further implement his ideas.

Next Season – Marcelino

Osasuna (11th)

2020/21 Coach – Jagoba Arrasate 

Jagoba Arrasate is another young Spanish coach building a reputation for himself. After an 11th place finish, it feels as though he has now fully established Osasuna’s place back in the top flight.

If they can keep key players such as Chimy Avila fit, the Pamplona club could even be dark horses for a European push next season, and they have already done some good business by signing Kike Garcia from relegated Eibar to bolster their attacking options.

Next Season – Jagoba Arrasate 

Cadiz (12th)

2020/21 Coach – Álvaro Cervera

Álvaro Cervera became only the second coach in the history of Cadiz to keep them up in their first season back in the top flight. He did it comfortably too, with their low-possession, counter-attacking style sealing a number of surprise early season away wins which laid the foundations for a 12th place finish – equalling the club’s highest ever league position.

He’s one of the longest serving coaches in Spain having taken over at the Ramon de Carranza in 2016 when Cadiz were in the Segunda B and with a contract running until 2024, it’s unlikely he’ll be going anywhere soon.

Next Season – Álvaro Cervera

Valencia (13th)

Jose Bordalas
Jose Bordalas – the new coach of Valencia via Дмитрий Пукалик, CC BY-SA 3.0

2020/21 Coach – Javi Gracia

Appointed last summer, Javi Gracia’s relationship with the Valencia board deteriorated very quickly and the only real surprise was that we had to wait until May to see the two part company. Voro, back in his familiar caretaker role, managed to ensure the club didn’t get sucked into any late relegation drama, but a 13th place finish was a season to forget for Valencia and their fans.

Their mood may not have been improved greatly by the appointment of José Bordalás. As well as his reputation for so-called “anti-football”, several bad-tempered clashes between Valencia and Bordalás’ Getafe make it a surprising decision in many respects. He does though come with a track record of doing good jobs with limited resources, which is sadly the new reality at Mestalla.

Next Season – José Bordalás

Levante (14th)

2020/21 Coach – Paco Lopez

Levante had another solid campaign under Paco Lopez, comfortably avoiding the relegation scrap whilst also making a Copa del Rey Semi-Final. His attacking Levante side have been something of a breath of fresh air in the bottom half of LaLiga which is full of teams unwilling to throw caution to the wind.

The 2020/21 season did peter out badly with just 3 points from their final 8 games, but unless anything unexpected happens, Lopez will be in the dugout when the new campaign gets going at the Ciutat de Valencia.

Next Season – Paco Lopez

Getafe (15th)

2020/21 Coach – José Bordalás

After four very successful seasons, in which Bordalás guided Getafe from the Segunda Division to European football, cracks emerged in a happy marriage in 2020/21. Getafe struggled badly for goals – scoring just 28 times, the worst record in the top flight. A victory on the penultimate matchday ensured their survival but what felt like the natural end of an era was confirmed with Bordalás agreeing to take over at Valencia.

The new man at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez is Míchel (the former Real Madrid player – not to be confused with the Míchel who led Huesca earlier this term), who returns a decade after leaving the club. His first spell produced an excellent 6th place finish before a disappointing 16th place in his final season, but Michel returns a more experienced coach having since led the likes of Sevilla, Marseille and Olympiacos.

Next Season – Míchel

Alaves (16th)

2020/21 Coach – Javier Calleja

The door to the Alaves managerial office has been a revolving one in recent years and the 2020/21 season was no exception. Pablo Machin, was perhaps unfortunate to be sacked in January as Abelardo returned to the club but he couldn’t reproduce the magic second time around and was himself dismissed three months later with the club bottom of the league.

Former Villarreal coach Javier Calleja came in and made a real impact late on, as Alaves won 4 of their final 8 games to secure safety. He will lead the club in 2021/22.

Next Season – Javier Calleja

Elche (17th)

2020/21 Coach – Fran Escribá

Elche were another club to make a coaching change that worked out and ultimately led to them clinching an unlikely survival on the final day. Fran Escriba returned to his old club in February, replacing Jorge Almiron and he managed to oversee an upturn in their home form which gave them a fighting chance.

Victories over Cadiz and Athletic in their final two games saw Elche pip Huesca to safety. Escriba hasn’t yet agreed to stay for next season but that is likely to be confirmed soon, and it seems he will be the man who attempts to keep Elche afloat in 2021/22 again.

Next Season – TBD

Huesca (18th)

2020/21 Coach – Pacheta

There was final day heartbreak as Huesca failed to find the goal they needed in a 0-0 draw against Valencia which saw them relegated to the Segunda Division. Pacheta still deserves credit for taking them to the brink of safety given the bleak position they were in, when he took over from Míchel in January.

The club offered him a deal to stay on but Pacheta has decided to leave and won’t be at the helm when Huesca kick off their Segunda Division campaign. He was tipped to take over at Getafe but ultimately missed out on that job, while Huesca are yet to name a replacement.

Next Season – TBD

Real Valladolid (19th)

2020/21 Coach – Sergio

It was a bitterly disappointing season at the Jose Zorrilla as Real Valladolid struggled throughout and ultimately suffered relegation on the final weekend. Many fans were frustrated that Sergio Gonzalez wasn’t dismissed earlier but he was finally given his marching orders after the defeat to Atletico Madrid which condemned them to the drop.

Real Valladolid are yet to appoint a successor as they prepare for life back in the Segunda Division.

Next Season – TBD

Eibar (20th)

2020/21 Coach – José Luis Mendilibar

It’s also the end of an era at Eibar after José Luis Mendilibar left the club following relegation. He will always have a special place in Eibar’s history having kept the Basque minnows in the top flight for so long against all the odds. While they will still be a small fish even in the Segunda Division, they will be in a financial position that gives them a real shot at competing for promotion next term.

Like the other relegated clubs, Eibar are yet to name a replacement and we should see movements from next week by which time the current Segunda Division season will be over.

Next Season – TBD


So far, we know that Espanyol and Real Mallorca will be in the top flight next season having secured automatic promotion from the Segunda. They are coached by Vicente Moreno and Luis Garcia respectively, with both men signed up for next term. You can keep tabs on the race for the final spot in the Primera from our Segunda Division previews page.

Spanish football writer
About Mark Sochon 1703 Articles
Mark is a freelance writer based in Madrid, writing mostly about Spanish football. His work has been published by the likes of Guardian Sport & World Soccer. Contact: marksochon (at) hotmail.co.uk

2 Comments

  1. So which La Liga coach out of contract at the end of 21/22 takes over from Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds Utd for the 2022/23 season?

    • Diego Martínez still hasn’t taken a job since leaving Granada and seems keen on a Premier League job so I’d say he’d be on Leeds’ radar. Regarding current LaLiga coaches, maybe Marcelino would be a good appointment if he doesn’t extend at Athletic beyond this season. Andoni Iraola likely to be in demand too. Will be tough for anyone trying to fill Bielsa’s boots though!

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