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The Toe Poke

Fifth-placed Sevilla sack Jimenez after draw

Sevilla have sacked manager Manolo Jimenez after their winless run stretched to seven games with a 1-1 home draw to bottom placed Xerez in La Liga on Tuesday night.

Sevilla sporting director Ramon Rodriguez 'Monchi' described the decision to sack Jimenez as a "painful'' one but is hoping the move will galvanise the team ahead of the season run-in.

Jimenez's tenure in the hotseat came to an end after Sevilla's Andalusian rivals Xerez scored a 92-minute equaliser at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. Sevilla will fall four points adrift of fourth-placed Real Mallorca and the Champions League places if the Balearic Island club beat Racing Santander on Wednesday.

Even the fact that Jimenez has led Sevilla to the final of the Copa del Rey, where they will play Atletico Madrid, failed to save the 46-year-old, with Monchi admitting they needed to do something to try and change the team's poor run before it is too late.

"The decision has been very painful and has been taken whilst considering a series of circumstances. We are playing for two very important objectives in the future, as much sporting as economic, and we are looking for a reaction,'' said Monchi. "It's time to revive the team.''

According to a statement on the Sevilla website, Nacho Oria and Ramon Orellana - both members of Jimenez's coaching staff - will take charge of training on Wednesday pending a decision by the board on who the future coach will be. Reports in the Spanish media suggest the club have been in contact with Spain's Euro 2008-winning coach Luis Aragones, with Michael Laudrup being their second choice. However, Monchi said: "We can't talk of replacements when we haven't spoken with anybody yet.''

Jimenez had been a long-serving coach of the club's reserve side, Sevilla Atletico, when he was promoted to take charge of the first team in October 2007 following the resignation of Juande Ramos.

The Seville-born Jimenez, a former Spain international who spent 14 years at the club during his playing days, inherited a side that had won five trophies in two years under Ramos - two UEFA Cups, the Copa del Rey, the European Super Cup and the Spanish Supercopa. Prior to that, Sevilla had picked up only four pieces of major silverware in their history, with the most recent being the Copa del Rey crown they won back in 1948.

In his first season in charge, Jimenez led Sevilla to a fifth-place finish in La Liga, and last year he guided them to third spot and a return to the Champions League. In Europe this season, Sevilla cruised through the group stages of the Champions League, picking up 13 points from their six Group G matches to finish four points clear of second-placed Stuttgart.

Sevilla then recorded a promising 1-1 draw away to CSKA Moscow in the first leg of their last-16 tie, but with the chance to make it through to the quarter-finals for the first time in their history, they slumped to a 2-1 defeat in the return meeting at home last week.

In La Liga, Sevilla started the season well, and after a 2-0 defeat by Valencia on the opening day they picked up nine wins from their next 13 matches, losing just once. However, a run of four successive defeats then saw them lose ground on leading duo Barcelona and Real Madrid, and things have not picked up in 2010.

In 13 league matches since the turn of the year Sevilla have recorded just four victories, and they started this round of fixtures a massive 24 points off the top two.

Monchi said of Jimenez's efforts over the last few weeks as he tried to turn the team around: "He has done everything possible and impossible and we only have words of appreciation for his work because he couldn't be more professional.''

Sevilla are away to Villarreal this weekend.


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