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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov, 29, 2006

Athletico Bilbao appoint Esnal as new coach

MADRID, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Athletic Bilbao have appointed former Alaves and Levante boss Jose Manuel Esnal as their new coach, the club announced on Wednesday.

Esnal, who is known as Mane in Spain, will become the club's fifth coach in the space of 18 months.

The 56-year-old made his name with the Vitoria-based Basque side Deportivo Alaves.

He guided the club to promotion to the Primera Liga in 1998 after a first-place finish in the second division and then oversaw their fairy-tale run to the final of the UEFA Cup in 2001 where they lost 5-4 to Liverpool after a golden goal in one of the most dramatic European finals of all time.

He guided Levante to promotion to the Primera Liga last season, but was replaced by former Real Madrid coach Juan Ramon Lopez Caro.

Mane takes over from Felix Sarriugarte who was sacked as Bilbao coach on Monday after a 3-1 home defeat by Sevilla pushed them into the relegation zone.

Sarriugarte was promoted from the reserve team to replace former Spain coach Javier Clemente who was sacked in July after falling out with former president Fernando Lamikiz.

The Basque club narrowly avoided relegation, but have struggled again this season and are in 18th place in the table, three points ahead of bottom club Gimnastic Tarragona who sacked their coach Luis Angel Cesatr on Sunday.

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