As Malaga's rivals are preparing for life in Segunda next year, the Costa del Sol club is in complete turmoil. A replacement for head coach José González, whose contract expires after Saturday's clash against Getafe, is yet to be found and the man who was charged with this appointment has now reportedly quit.
Though not officially announced, sporting director Mario Husillos has resigned from his post after club owner Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani publicly closed the door on the appointment of former Granada, Levante and Elche boss Lucas Alcaraz, tweeting: “With my respect to Mr Lucas Alcaraz It's not our options I wish to him very successfully with another team [sic].”
This public undermining of Husillos' authority was the final straw. When negotiating his return to the club with the sheikh's sons Nasser and Nayef in late 2017, Husillos demanded that there be no interference on the sporting side of operations and that any of the sheikh's opinions be kept private. This had been the case until last Friday when the sheikh's tweet broke that dynamic.
Husillos let it be known immediately that he would be leaving the club, informing club lawyer Joaquín Jofre (who is effectively the only person involved in running the club outside of the Al-Thani family) that he would continue working until the termination of his contract was confirmed but that he would not be taking any decisions and would not be “making the team”. This means that any negotiations that he had been carrying out are now at risk of collapsing and the club could find itself paralysed until Husillos' departure is sealed.
The sheikh's new plan
It is understood that Sheikh Al-Thani will not seek to replace Husillos and will instead revert to the formula which he tried to implement upon arriving at the club.
His first managerial appointment after buying Malaga was that of Jesualdo Ferreira. The Portuguese, who had very little knowledge of Spanish football, was appointed as a general manager and was tasked with coaching the squad, as well as overseeing player recruitment.
However, after a disastrous five-month spell and some peculiar signings, Ferreira was replaced by Manuel Pellegrini as head coach and Antonio Fernández as sporting director.
This time round, though, Al-Thani is convinced that the system will work and his preferred candidate for the role is former coach Juan Ramón Muñiz.
The sheikh has studied Muñiz's role in earning promotion for Malaga in the 2007-08 season - a season during which he carried out the role outlined.
The coach, however, has already twice refused the Malaga job in the last two months (he was also Husillos' first choice) having been unconvinced by the sporting project and the sheikh's interference in daily operations. However, the sheikh is confident that if offered the chance to oversee the entire sporting project, Muñiz would find the Malaga job, one close to his heart, hard to refuse.
Negotiations on this front, though, can't begin until Husillos' future is resolved. Having seen his working conditions compromised, and therefore the terms of his contract broken, the sporting director is holding out for a pay-off.