José Luis Pérez Caminero is a man with a big task ahead of him. Malaga CF's new sporting director was officially presented on Monday after a month of deadlock at the club, during which all planning came to a standstill following the resignation of the man he replaces, Mario Husillos.
Caminero, who was presented alongside former Malaga midfielder Juan Rodríguez who will act as his number two, joins from Atlético Madrid after seven seasons as sporting director and first-team coordinator. The 50-year-old wanted a new challenge and at Malaga he certainly has one.
With experience in Segunda and considered a safe pair of hands, the clear objective for the new man will be to return Malaga to Spanish football's elite. However, this task won't be a simple one and he already has a considerable to-do list before he can even start to build a squad capable of a promotion push next year.
A new coach, a top priority
The highest on his list is the appointment of a new head coach. “The idea is to name a new coach as soon as we can because having one in place in crucial in the building of a squad,” said Caminero on Wednesday.
Since José González's contract expired at the end of the season, Malaga have been without a head coach but it has not been for the want of trying.
Juan Ramón Muñiz was the top target for both Husillos and club owner Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani but the Asturian's demands were not met in two rounds of negotiations which took place either side of the sheikh's decision to publicly veto Husillos' appointment of Lucas Alcaraz (which led to Husillos' resignation).
In any case, Caminero has the profile of the new man in mind: “The coach has to be someone who knows the division well... the teams, the stadiums, how to handle the demands of the long campaign. Segunda is nothing at all like La Liga.”
Once the coach is in place, one of the greatest challenges facing Caminero will be overhauling the playing squad with limited finances. He joins the club in the midst of a complicated economic situation with a large squad and an inflated wage bill.
The squad currently boasts 30 players under contract (the maximum that can be registered to play is 25) while a number of players (Keko, Michael Santos, Federico Ricca and Luis Hernández) have wages incompatible with a Segunda team.
“When there is such a large number of players, there has to be some exits,” said Caminero. “We need to speak face to face with everyone so that there are no misunderstandings about roles for the new season.”
Esteban Rolón and Emanuel Cecchini, both surplus to requirements, are understood to be close to agreeing loan moves to Argentina, but there is still plenty of deadwood in the squad that will need clearing. These mostly include returning loan players such as Bakary Koné, Adnane Tighadouini, Cifu and Jony, but also third-choice keeper Cenk Gönen.
With so many ins and outs expected, chances are expected to be granted to a number of younger players during preseason including Álex Mula, Javier Ontiveros, Luis and Mikel (returning from loans) as well as a number of reserve-team players such as Álex Robles, Iván and Pablo Clavería. “Everyone knows that Malaga has a good academy so we are going to do everything we can to strengthen that,” said the new sporting director.
Unity among the fans
Following the press conference Caminero and Juan Rodríguez both purchased their season tickets for next season and the former urged fans to do the same: “The only thing I am looking for is unity. Without it, it will be very difficult for us to earn promotion.”
When asked if he felt the fans would react positively following relegation, he replied: “I have no doubt whatsoever that the fans will be there with us [next year].”