Between the Tajamar School, when a weak kid outwitted rivals with that audacity that only the neighborhood gives, and the soccer explosion on Sunday in Montjuc, when the Girona coach celebrated an unforgettable win against Barça, everything has been arriving in its time for Miguel Ángel Sánchez Muoz. At 48 years old, Michel He is the most acclaimed coach of the moment. The leader of the League. The head of a project that shakes the hierarchies of Spanish football. Today, Mchel no longer plays with skinned knees on the dirt fields of Nuestra Señora de la Torre, on the outskirts of Vallecas. Today, he is simply the great protagonist of a tournament in need of fresh air. Although everything, of course, requires his time.
Mchel has traveled through the secondary roads of football until taking the big leap in Girona, a club under the auspices of the City Football Group (CFG), the same one that supports Pep Guardiola in Manchester. Today, thanks to a very specific plan, supported by young players with undeniable talent, he not only captivates with his style, but also surpasses the rest in terms of competitiveness. To his game model, with the ball as the protagonist, he adds a winning mentality that has been channeled into various comebacks. However, despite appearances, to really know Mchel the parameters of the ball are not enough.
I think what differentiates him from the rest is his ability to understand the game, to take advantage of his strengths and attack the opponent’s weaknesses. Also keeping all members of the staff connected. However, he is such an honest and close guy that what is really nuclear for him is his family. In his profile photo you won’t see anything about football, but rather his wife and his two children, an SD Huesca manager assures this newspaper. In fact, during his time at El Alcoraz, between 2019 and 2021, he did not even Laura neither Michelangelo neither Alex They were able to accompany him as much as they would have liked. And he had a really bad time.
never leaves you
That tribal spirit to move through life is holy and be it for Mchel, son of Candle and Benjaminowners of a fruit farm in Vallecas, brother of Gem and two other men. All humble employees. The youngest of a family that made the neighborhood its livelihood. Its reason for being. Always tangled with the ball, the boy was uncovering his potential until Rayo caught him during a test at Tajamar. After almost two decades as a professional, between 1993 and 2012, he emerged as the greatest figure in the history of the franjirroja. He is a guy who never abandons you, who is always looking out for you. For him, his people will always be his people, wherever he is. It doesn’t matter that I don’t call you for 10 months, because, among other things, I know how you treated one of our workers while he was facing colon cancer, says a former member of the organization chart.
There are still friendships that remain from the times in Raimundo Lulio School, where he was such a bad student, so unruly, that even many years later he still could not believe that he had signed, as co-author, a methodology book. It was titled Integrated Football Training in Early Ages and I wrote it, among others, with Victor Paredes, former physical trainer of Rayo, today in the Real Madrid reserve team. He intends to strengthen the ties between the quarry and the first team. He had just hung up his boots and that represented the decisive approach with his admired Paco Jmezwith whom he shared five years, between 2012 and 2016.
A shadow work so characteristic of trainers who end up becoming leaders. There were hours without quarter in the Ciudad Deportiva del Rayo, where the first team coach did not hesitate to come to attend the games of the alevins, benjamines or cadets. And greet, almost one by one, the kids. Both shared the Rayista faith, cultivated at the altar of Jess Diego Cota, and the conviction that these facilities, inaugurated in 2010, would support the only possible future for La Franja. Mchel will always be from Vallecas. The neighborhood embraced him from the first minute and has not let go of him yet. No matter how much he comes with other teams, we will always applaud and love him, they add from the club. Ral Martín Presa. Just a month ago, during the last league visit, the entire stadium chanted his name under the same tune: He took us out of Second, from Rayo to the grave.
That bond with Paco continues to this day, despite the Persian journey of the Canarian, head of Tractor FC, one of the most popular clubs in Iran. However, Michel has freed himself from the rigorist interpretation of Jemecism, which guided his first steps as a coach. Today it would be absurd to consider him an aesthete who privileges any type of beauty to the detriment of results. He himself has admitted that he was confused about many things, whether due to youth or posing impossible challenges, one of his close friends admits.
In this turn towards pragmatism, one of its references has been Julen Lopetegui, with whom he shared a dressing room in Vallecas for five seasons. When they met, in 1997, he was a 22-year-old boy and the former Real Madrid and Barcelona goalkeeper was already 31. Over the course of two decades, Mchel never stopped listening to his advice. And when football offered its most bitter side, he did not hesitate to follow its trail in search of balance in the system and structure.
I regret not having done more for him in SD Huesca
Because, although now about confetti and glitter in Montilivi, we must not forget that those promotions with Rayo in 2018 and Huesca in 2020 faded almost immediately. In March 2019 he suffered his first dismissal in Vallecas. In January 2021, with only one victory after 18 days, he was struck down in El Alcoraz. Now, when I remember it, my eyes still get wet, because it was a very hard moment, remembers one of the leaders. After the war we are all generals, but today, although it sounds advantageous, I regret not having done more for him, he adds.
Curiously, the day of greatest anxiety in the Barça club was experienced after a cruel defeat in Santander, against a Racing team already condemned to Second B. We lost the first bullet for promotion and I remember seeing him very shaken during the return flight. I think he ate two bags of sweets. I told him to go home, to be with his wife and to prepare for war. A few days later we beat Numancia and achieved promotion, he recalls. The ups and downs of football. The same ones that pressured him during his first year in Girona. So, when the team wandered around the lower area, Delf Gelipresident, and Kike Jail, sports director, agreed to renew it. His current contract extends until 2026.
What excites me is that the player feels happy and improves every day, that by talking and training with him he can progress. Repeated so many times, it became a mantra for Mchel who, after two days of rest after 2-4, will reunite his men first thing in the morning. The priority, which transcends the tactical, will once again be limited to the personal: knowing how they rested during the night or how things are going at home. Success is based on this permanent dialogue with the squad and their desire to integrate into the club’s day-to-day life, learning and speaking Catalan during press conferences.
Mental health, of course, also figures among its objectives. Since 2018 – those days of glory due to the rise of Rayo – he himself requested psychological help to control anxiety. And in the technical area of El Alcoraz his little games with a plastic bottle were famous, drawing a pirouette before landing on his feet again. A method to isolate yourself from noise.
Today, Mchel manages compelling arguments to compete for the title until the end. Because his game model in Girona is as beautiful as it is effective. In fact, the 41 points in 16 games represent the second best record in the last decade, only behind Barcelona in 2017-18. That year, the team Ernesto Valverde he proclaimed himself champion. Like Atlético in 2021, also with 41 units. Or just like the Blaugrana last year. Since 2007, with Juande Ramos Under the leadership of Sevilla, no team other than Real Madrid, Barcelona or Atlético led the table with the League so advanced.
100 matches in First Division
With these figures on the table, the parallels with Leicester, Premier League champions in 2016, should not sound crazy at all. That fairy tale Claudio Ranieri It could be reissued with this team built around CFG and led by executives with enough cunning to fish the market better than anyone. For example, last winter, with five million euros to Dynamo kyiv for Viktor Tsyngakovthen valued at 22 million.
Pending what will be approved in a few days at the General Shareholders’ Meeting, the last budget closed in Montilivi was estimated at 55 million euros. A ridiculous amount next to Real Madrid’s 766 or Bara’s 914. In any case, no one should avoid another differentiating factor: Girona has access to talents such as Savio, Yangel Herrera either Yan Coutoall on loan from City, thanks to their collaboration with CFG.
Meanwhile, Mchel was able to celebrate his 100th game as a coach in the First Division on Sunday. After the historic 2-4, closed by Christian Stuani, Girona has nine consecutive victories as a visitor, including those in the Copa del Rey against San Roque and Orihuela. Right now, he not only tops the table, but he has more goals (38), more assists (29) and a better goals-to-shots ratio (0.22) than anyone else in LaLiga. Records at the level of Liverpool and Inter Milan, the leaders of the other two reference tournaments. And their league projections even improve those of the last three champions: Bara, with 88 points in 2023; Real Madrid, with 86 in 2022 and Atltico, with 86 in 2021.