Paco Jemez and Las Palmas set for relegation

Paco Jemez, Las Palmas

Seven points separated Las Palmas from Levante – and safety from La Liga relegation – going into Sunday’s crucial clash between the two at Estadio Ciudad de Valencia. It was a make or break game for the Canary Islanders – a win would give them hope of salvation while defeat would surely kill any lingering hope.

With five minutes of normal time remaining, anxiety was palpable around the stadium with the tie tantalisingly poised at 1-1. Then, Levante were reduced to ten men as goal scorer Coke  was sent-off. With Las Palmas pushing for a vital winner and the game ticking into injury time, they were hit by a sucker punch from Jose Campana which looks set to end their three-year stint in the top flight.

Jemez was appointed as the club’s third permanent manager of the campaign – following unsuccessful stints from Manolo Marquez and Pako Ayesteran – four days before Christmas but has guided his side to just two victories in 14 attempts. There have been flashes of potential – such as the January victory at home to Valencia and the draw at home to runaway league leaders Barcelona – but sparse impressive performances have not been enough.

An early February home win over Malaga had looked set to help propel Los Amarillos to safety but they are without a win in nine outings since, with four defeats in their last five. It is up front where the problems clearly lie with just five goals in their last nine.

The January exit of star forward Jonathan Viera has removed the key player from the club’s attack while top scorer Loic Remy was also allowed to depart to Getafe after falling out with Jemez. Nine players arrived in Gran Canaria in January as the tactician attempted to overhaul his squad but such disruption has not added any sense of continuity to proceedings.

Jemez is known for encouraging all-or-nothing attacking football but he has not translated this into his current role, where his side play with pride and willingness but little in the way of genuine top-flight quality.

It is his second spell in charge of his hometown club but it is likely to see him pick up the unwanted achievement of being involved in three successive relegations. Such information must be put into the context that he did not take Granada down last season – he was sacked after just six games and no victories – yet he could not save Rayo Vallecano in 2016 nor has his arrival benefited Las Palmas.

Jemez – who spent a year at Mexican giants Cruz Azul before returning home – has seen his stock fall in his home country in recent times and with his current deal expiring at the end of the season, it would be no surprise if he seeks for another fresh start this summer.

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