Brighton and Hove Albion have asserted their commitment to possession football with the appointment tonight of former Barcelona coach Oscar Garcia as their new manager.
Days after dismissing Gus Poyet, and with assistant manager Mauricio Taricco leaving by "mutual consent", the Championship club have chosen 40-year-old Spaniard Oscar. It is a show of faith in his Barcelona-taught football philosophy, as he comes to the Amex Stadium with just one season of senior management to his name.
Oscar should bring a touch of Catalonia to the Sussex coast. He is from Barcelona, came through the youth system and played there through the 1990s, never as a regular but still winning stacks of trophies. He went on to feature for Valencia and Espanyol before coming back to Barcelona to work with the youngsters. Garcia took charge of Barcelona's Under-19s – Juvenil A – for the 2010-11 season, guiding them to the Under-19 treble for the second time in their history. At the end of his season there, he spoke about how much he enjoyed attention to tactical detail. "I love it, I love to study how to make the opponent suffer, how to make use of the qualities of my players," he told the Catalan newspaper, Sport. "I have a passion for it."
The next season, Garcia's team lost out to Espanyol for the title, and in 2012 he left Catalonia to take his first managerial post at Maccabi Tel Aviv, working under his former Barça team-mate and Maccabi general manager Jordi Cruyff.
Garcia was a success at Maccabi, guiding the old underachievers to their first Israeli title since 2003, as they finished a comfortable 13 points clear of Maccabi Haifa. "Garcia took a tense club and got it to relax," wrote influential Israeli newpspaer Haaretz. "He took a depressed club and infused it with new life. He took a club that had collapsed and returned it to its former glory."
Garcia pledged that he would stay and try to take Maccabi into the Champions League group stage. But late last month he resigned, saying that "various circumstances in my life that outweigh professional considerations have forced me to take this sudden decision".
"To win the Premier League title in your first year in such a convincing fashion is no simple task," said Cruyff. Neither is promotion from the Championship but Garcia will give it his best shot.
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