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Nov 28, 2012

Aguirre to take Espanyol reins

Former Mexico and Atletico Madrid boss Javier Aguirre has been appointed Espanyol coach for the rest of the season.

Espanyol B boss Raul Longhi will oversee Wednesday's Copa del Rey last 32 second leg at home to Sevilla, with Aguirre to be presented to the media at Cornella-El Prat on Thursday afternoon, before taking his first training session with his new squad.

A statement released via Espanyol's club site on Wednesday morning confirmed that Aguirre would replace Mauricio Pochettino, who left the club by "mutual consent" on Monday.

"RCD Espanyol and Javier Aguirre have reached an agreement for the Mexican to become blanquiazul coach until the end of the season," the statement said. "Aguirre arrives accompanied by Alfredo Tena, as assistant coach, and Juan Iribarren, physical coach, who have worked with him in his previous coaching experiences.

"Aguirre will travel in the coming hours to Barcelona to sign the contract already agreed with the club's lawyers, to take the place of Mauricio Pochettino, who left on Monday after four years in charge of the blanquiazul first team. The new espanyolista coach, who had a stand-out spell in charge of the Mexican national side, has previously coached in La Liga with Osasuna, Atletico Madrid and Real Zaragoza."

Speaking on Tuesday before Aguirre had been appointed, Espanyol captain Joan Verdu said he and his fellow players should shoulder the blame for their side's poor start to the season, which has left them bottom of the Primera Division table with just nine points from their first 13 games.

Verdu accepted that performances so far this season had not been acceptable, while pointing out that fortune had not been on their side, especially with refereeing decisions in recent games.

"A lot of the blame for what has happened, if not all, should go to the players," the playmaker told reporters on Tuesday. "I feel guilty myself for not having achieved the objective we had. We have not had the luck in some moments and we have deserved more points than we have. I am convinced we can come forward out of this."

One of those "unlucky" games was the Copa first leg in Sevilla, when Espanyol conceded two late goals, including a debatable injury time penalty to lose 3-1. Verdu said a second leg comeback could be the spur his side needed to turn their season around.

"It is important for us," he said. "In the first leg we played well, we deserved to draw and at the end it got away from us. For me the tie is still open. Turning it around would give us a lot of confidence."

Verdu said the general situation around the club - heavily in debt and beset by political infighting at board level - was difficult for the players.

"Nobody likes this, it is a difficult situation for us," he said. "I do not know if (Pochettino leaving) was the answer, I do not want to judge that. We want to turn things around, fight and show that things can move forward. The squad is dedicated and the coach who comes in will be received with open arms."

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