I was travelling to the UK for the holidays yesterday, so I wasn't able to bring you the day's big news - that sporting director Vlada Stosic has been sacked. It's thought that Juan Carlos Garrido's No. 2, Sergio Fernandez, will take over his responsibilities.
To understand the full implications of this, I should probably explain that in Spain - unlike in England - the first-team coach isn't usually in charge of signing new players. Pepe Mel, for instance, would say to the club, "I need a goalkeeper, a right-sided midfielder and a tall striker," and would have to do the best withwhat he was delivered by the sporting. (That's obviously a slight simplification in that he clearly did have some input into the process, but it's more or less how it works.) So when the fans were looking around for someone to blame for Betis's current precarious position and poorly performing squad, Stosic was an obvious target and there were repeated chants for his dismissal on Saturday.
In truth, however, he probably did only a slightly worse than average job overall. In the three years since he took over the post, he's had next to no money to spend, which means he's mostly had to gamble on raw youngsters, ageing veterans and recovery projects, and in that situation you're always likely to have both hits and misses. Articles in the Seville press today have made much of names like Tosic and Molins - Remember them? Exactly! - but there have also been Paulao, Pabon, Jefferson Montero and Joel Campbell, all of whom worked out about as well as could have been expected. And if you add in that Stosic is part of team of scouts, he might feel aggrieved today to have had to carry the can.
On the other hand, it probably is a good idea to have someone in that position who is close to the coach. Stosic and Pepe Mel had a fairly testy relationship by all accounts, and that's clearly not ideal. Sergio Fernandez's appointment is being seen as a vote of confidence in Juan Carlos Garrido and is definitely a positive step forward. With the transfer window about to reopen and the Betis squad lacking quality and confidence, they have some serious work ahead of them.