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José González remains as head coach ... for now

José González giving his team instructions against Bilbao.
José González giving his team instructions against Bilbao. / EFE
  • Malaga are only looking for a new head coach in the summer, having seemingly accepted relegation

Defeat in Leganés made it six on the bounce for Malaga who, miraculously only find themselves eight points adrift of safety with eleven games left to play. But with eleven games and 33 points still to play for, should Malaga stick with current head coach José González, or twist?

The most obvious option seems to be replacing the manager, who has only picked up two points from the eight matches he has overseen. However, the club doesn't have anyone else lined up to replace him at present, partly due to the fact that none of the defeats have been by a resounding margin but also because none of Malaga's direct rivals have gained ground either.

With such a large number of players still adapting to life at a new club, the signs shown generally under the new man's reign have been mostly positive, except Saturday's horror show against Leganés.

However, this doesn't mean that the club aren't planning for an increasingly inevitable relegation. Sporting director Mario Husillos and his team are searching hard for new recruits both on the field and in the dug-out. While González's contract would see him stay on as coach if he keeps them up, he is almost certain to be moved on in the event of relegation.

The club would be hoping to make an immediate return to La Liga so are shortlisting candidates who know Segunda well and what is required to escape at the first time of asking.

An inflated wage bill

Whether Malaga stay up or go down, Husillos will still need to trim the fat on a large squad which contains a number of players already deemed surplus to requirements.

Even though the majority of the squad will see their wages halved upon relegation (Michael Santos, Juanpi and Federico Ricca are the exceptions), Malaga will still have 24 players on professional contracts, plus three first-team players on youth contracts (Youssef En-Nesyri, Luis Muñoz and Álex Mula) - an unsustainable amount for a Segunda side. Among these are players such as Cifu, Bakary Koné, Emanuel Cecchini and Adnane Tighadouini who were all loaned out this year, plus goalkeeper Cenk Gönen who was removed from the squad but remains under contract. The club wants to move them all on and will have to before it can even start to address the serious imbalances in a squad lacking in options in both attack and defence (assuming none of the current loan players make their moves permanent).

In any case, the offices at La Rosaleda are a busy place with lots of planning for next campaign, whether in Primera or Segunda. However, while relegation wasn't even being contemplated just a few weeks ago, Plan B is now being given much more serious thought.