There are few teams in world football who should be respected as much as Sevilla. This particular writer admittedly has had a soft spot for them for quite some time, unashamedly forming and chairing the ‘Jose Antonio Reyes is a better prospect than Cristiano Ronaldo’ club. It is for this reason that the news that Ramón Rodríguez Verdejo, affectionately called ‘Monchi’, will be vacating his role as Director of Football at Sevilla is saddening.
When Monchi took up his role in 2000, Sevilla had just been relegated to the Segunda and were facing financial ruin. The board tasked him with two things. First, overhaul the club’s youth system. Second, implement a scouting network capable of unearthing hidden gems both in Spain and around the world. It’s fair to say he has successfully completed both tasks. The numbers speak for themselves as many a youth team player and low budget signing has passed through Sevilla under Monchi’s watch before being sold at a profit. His work provided the platform for Sevilla to not only rebuild but grow. Silverware arrived in the shape of five Europa Leagues and two Copa del Reys. His departure will come as a bitter blow to the reigning Europa League Champions but the legacy he has left behind will live on.
Monchi’s next move is the talking point now. Speculation suggests that he’s been tempted to try his luck in England with Manchester United. This would make sense from a United perspective since it has been revealed that they failed in their attempt to convince Andrea Berta to leave Atletico Madrid to fill a similar role for them. Monchi’s departure from Sevilla on the heels of Berta’s decision to stay could simply be coincidence or there could be more going on behind the scenes.
Is Monchi the right fit for United though? Many will state without question that Monchi will be a success wherever he lands but it isn’t that simple. It must be noted that Sevilla and Manchester United operate in two completely different worlds. At Sevilla, Monchi’s focus was on youth progression and the identification of good players who could grow into great players given opportunity and trust. At United, or any big club for that matter, the aim of the game is instant success. There is less time for growth as success is expected. Monchi at United would need to be bringing in players who are ready to hit the ground running yet that is not what he has built his career on so far. That is a whole new ball game, and while many will argue that more resources means he will be able to get the best players, it is not a foregone conclusion.
Another potential hiccup for Monchi at United would be their new manager, Jose Mourinho. At Sevilla Monchi enjoyed almost total control. He was the head of the organization and had the final say in footballing matters. Would he enjoy such responsibility at United with Mourinho now in charge? Highly unlikely. Mourinho is the same man who despised Jorge Valdano’s influence at Real Madrid and did everything in his power to get him out. Would Jose be open to the idea of having someone else influence his desired targets?
Until a move is announced, speculation around Monchi’s future will persist and rightly so. One of the best footballing brains in the game is up for grabs.