Former Real Betis coach Pepe Mel has wished his successor Juan Carlos Garrido all the best in charge of the club, while maintaining that his sacking was unjust and rash.
Mel was fired on Monday with the team bottom of La Liga having taken just two points from their last eight games, but the move was still a surprise given that the popular boss had taken the club from the Segunda Division to the Europa League during his previous three seasons in charge.
Hundreds of verdiblanco fans dismayed at the decision turned up at the Seville club’s Estadio Benito Villamarin on Monday evening to protest, while inside a tearful and appreciative Mel told reporters as he said goodbye that he hoped new man Garrido would get similar support.
“This is the press conference that I never wanted to give,” he said. “I owe many people many thanks. I want to thank all the footballers I have had since 2010 for their commitment and the work they did with us. We have been through bad moments and we overcame them together. It is so unfortunate it has not been possible to resolve this. I ask Betis fans to be as good to the new coach as they have been with me. Thanks to everyone.”
The ex-Getafe, Alaves and Rayo Vallecano boss told El Larguero later that evening that he was sure he would have kept the team up had he been given time to turn things around.
“Sportswise this is my worst day,” he said. “I feel really wrecked by this. Given all we achieved until last summer, I did not expect it to be thrown out after just three months. But that is football. I am leaving with my head high. I am sure that we would have not gone down. Betis have the players to get out of this situation.”
Mel’s task was complicated by 16 players leaving the club last summer, including key midfielders Benat Etxebarria and David Canas and attackers Joel Campbell and Dorlan Pabon.
Few of the 13 replacements brought in by sporting director Vlada Stosic have impressed thus far. Most of these new players were free transfers or loan signings as the Andalusian club remain in administration following years of financial mismanagement under former president Manuel Ruiz de Lopera.
Garrido, who took charge of his first training session Tuesday morning, built his reputation at Villarreal on bringing through young players, leading the team into the Champions League, but then being fired when things went downhill the following season.
He also had initial success at Club Bruges, but was fired in September with the team unbeaten domestically and second in the Belgian first division table.