When the news of Paco Jemez’s departure from Mexican club Cruz Azul was confirmed last month, fans of La Liga collectively were put on alert. The 47-year-old had spent a year in the Central American country and Spain’s top flight was distinctly a less joyful place with his absence. The former Spain international has managed six Spanish clubs previously – including a nine-month stint at Las Palmas in the 2010/11 campaign – but is most well-known for his four-year spell in charge of Rayo Vallecano.
Jemez often endears himself to fans for his humour and authenticity whilst his dedication to the principles of high-pressing, high-tempo football sells him to neutrals too. He instructs his players to express themselves, to take risks and to excite the fans. This heart-stopping brand of football can be described as ‘all or nothing’ – a draw is closer to a defeat than a victory, after all. He will be hoping this style of play will benefit Los Amarillos’ attacking talent, such as Jonathan Viera or Loic Remy.
The manager does not let other sides dictate how his side plays or the tempo of the match but rather he takes them on his way. Often, this leads to humiliating defeats, such as the 10-2 defeat his Rayo suffered at the Bernabeu against Real Madrid in December 2015 (although the huge caveat of two early red cards for the visitors is often overlooked). The flip side is his teams often perform collectively well above the sum of their individual parts, and in the return match in Vallecas his side took a shock 2-0 lead, before being edged out by the odd goal in five.
However, Las Palmas are rooted to the foot of La Liga and need results rather than entertainment. Jemez becomes their third permanent manager of the season to replace Pako Ayesteran – whose seven league games at the helm brought only one point –after Manolo Marquez’s reign did not last belong the opening four matches. Stability is required but also results as unlike last season, few teams appear to be in such a state they could be cut adrift from the rest.
Jemez is now in charge once again of his hometown club but there will be no honeymoon period with fans desperately short of patience with the club’s outspoken Miguel Angel Ramirez. This summer’s transfer window was not a successful one for the club and Vitolo’s loan spell has ended, joining Atletico Madrid. Jemez will not have it easy but entertainment is guaranteed.