“Football belongs to the footballers, coaches are not that important. The players make us look better and I am lucky to have players who are showing their level. If I didn’t have them, I wouldn’t be achieving anything.”
Those were the words of Rayo Vallecano manager Andoni Iraola when he was asked whether he was aware of interest in him from the likes of Leeds United. Winning promotion via the playoffs two years ago after a sixth-place finish in Segunda, Rayo earned a cult following last season, their adventurous football keeping them at similar heights before an eventual ending up in 12th, which is a resounding success.
Known to many as the last of the Spanish neighbourhood clubs, Rayo’s famous red stripe represents not just a football club, but an entire community. Vallecas, or the Independent People’s Republic of Vallekas, lies on the periphery of Madrid both geographically and ideologically.
Rayo are known for many things, but given the fact that they have never won a major trophy in their 98-year history, most of those are off the pitch. These include their unique stadium, which has the smallest pitch in La Liga currently and some apartment balconies behind one of the goals.
In other off-the-pitch news, Rayo Vallecano manager Andoni Iraola is on Leeds United’s radar as a potential replacement for Jesse Marsch, according to reports. Reports have suggested that Leeds are weighing up an approach for Iraola following Marsch’s dismissal early in February.
A 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest was the final blow for the American coach who had overseen a poor run of form at the club that left the Whites without a Premier League win since November 2022. Despite the club backing Marsch with four new signings in the January window, the board have now decided that they need a new head coach to lead the team for the remainder of the season.
Building a side around high-pressing and energetic football is something that fans grew accustomed to under Marcelo Bielsa during his time in charge and former Athletic Bilbao defender Iraola likes to adopt a similar approach in Spain. In fact, Iraola even played for the legendary Argentine during his time at…