Sheikh Al-Thani sacks Francesc Arnau as sporting director

Mario Husillos and Francesc Arnau, in a SUR photograph taken four years ago.
Mario Husillos and Francesc Arnau, in a SUR photograph taken four years ago. / SUR
  • After the bad start to the season, the owner of Malaga CF has reinstated Argentinian Mario Husillos to the post after two years

  • Husillos has a good relationship with coach Míchel, although no major changes can be made to the squad until the January transfer window

With Malaga CF at the bottom of La Liga it was only a matter of time before the owner took remedial action.

However Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani isn't know for dismissing his head coaches so easily, and especially if they combine the ideal profile of a motivating leader with the continued support of the players, as is the case with team coach Míchel.

Therefore it was not a great surprised that Al-Thani would turn his axe on the day-to-day team management of sporting director Francesc Arnau.

According to sources, Arnau, a former club goalkeeper, was told he was sacked several days ago by the chief executive of the club Joaquín Jofre, acting in the owner's name.

Back again

The real surprise came with the announcement on Monday of who the replacement sporting director was going to be. Argentinian Mario Husillos is to make a return to the Blues and Whites two years after he was last with the club.

He left Malaga a little under two years ago when he was replaced by Arnau himself. Husillos enjoys an excellent relationship with manager Míchel as they trained together.

“I'm going [to Malaga] with all the entusiasm in the world and very happy,” Husillos is said to have told friends once the announcement was out.

What the new role will be for outgoing sporting director Arnau isn't yet clear. His contract says he should return to work in the Malaga FC sporting academy, however club sources reported that he may be looking to sever his contract completely.

Strangely, Mario Husillos was pushed out of the sporting director role last time round at the same time as the chief executive was also replaced during a period when the competitive position of the team was at a low point.

However Husillos left on good terms, maintaining the affection of sheikh Al-Thani with the door open for his return, as has now happened.

The change in sporting director won't allow any urgent changes to be made to the squad as the transfer season is closed and the club will have to struggle on until January with the same players to select from.

But Husillos is certain to begin to sound out the market after analysing the team's needs with Míchel. A defensive and a central midfielder may be two of the playing positions that they look to reinforce, as there are few options available to the manager in the current squad.

Arnau's farewell

The outgoing sporting director said goodbye to the squad ahead of training on Tuesday this week.

The defender Baysse commented on Arnau's farewell at the subsequent press conference at the training ground.

“This morning we've had a chat with him. He says we are a good team and he hopes we will win a lot of points,” explained the player.

Arnau was very close to both the squad and the technical team, not because of his almost-two-year term as sporting director but also due to his sixteen-year stint overall at La Rosaleda, where he arrived in 2001 as goalkeeper from Barcelona.