Tactical Insights

Chelsea, Barcelona ‘keeping tabs on Girona’s Michel’

Girona head coach Michel is reportedly attracting glances from both Chelsea and Barcelona thanks to his side’s exceptional performances in the current La Liga season.

Chelsea and Barcelona have reportedly both taken a liking to Girona head coach Michel amid managerial uncertainties at Stamford Bridge and Camp Nou.

The 48-year-old has been in charge of the Spanish outfit since the summer of 2021 and has overseen an exceptional start to the La Liga season for his side, who were only promoted back to the top flight in the 2021-22 campaign.

After mustering a 10th-placed finish in the 2022-23 season, Girona have been one of Europe’s unexpected success stories with 17 wins, five draws and one defeat from their opening 23 La Liga fixtures to sit second in the table.

Michel’s men are only two points behind leaders Real Madrid, whom they take on in a tantalising top-of-the-table battle on Saturday evening, and the 48-year-old’s work has unsurprisingly not gone unnoticed.

Girona still have Michel under contract until the end of the 2025-26 season, but according to El Chiringuito, both Barcelona and Chelsea “love” the former Huesca boss’ style of management.

Girona coach Michel before the match on September 30, 2023© Reuters

Girona have netted more goals than any other Spanish top-flight side this season, notching 52 strikes at the correct end of the field while conceding 25, and Michel has been flexible regarding formation choices.

The Madrid-born coach has favoured a 4-2-3-1 setup in the past few weeks, but he also deployed a three-man backline at various points in his tenure, including in December’s 4-2 win over Barcelona at Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys.

Following that home loss for the Catalonian giants, a 5-3 beating at the hands of Villarreal on their own territory caused Xavi to announce his imminent resignation immediately after the match.

The former Spain midfielder admitted that managing the La Liga champions can be a “cruel” and “unpleasant” experience, and he will cede control of the reins to a successor at the end of the campaign.

A plethora of esteemed and up-and-coming managers have been tipped to step into the Camp Nou dugout, and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp – who will also vacate his post this summer – is believed to be their number one candidate.

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino reacts on February 7, 2024© Reuters

However, the German is expected to take a sabbatical once he bids farewell to Anfield, so Barcelona will likely run the rule over other candidates, including Rafael Marquez, Hansi Flick and Julian Nagelsmann.

Meanwhile, Mauricio Pochettino‘s job security at Chelsea has been called into question owing to the Blues’ woeful showings in the Premier League, where they sit 11th in the table after 23 matches.

There are not believed to be any immediate plans to give Pochettino the boot, though, and his players eased some of the pressure on his shoulders with an unexpected 3-1 beating of Aston Villa in the FA Cup on Thursday night.

The Blues are expected to wait until the summer before making a final call on Pochettino’s future, and the 51-year-old’s deal at Stamford Bridge only runs until the end of the 2024-25 campaign.

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