After revealing earlier this week to local media that it would take an exceptional offer to prise him away from Montilivi, perhaps for the first time supporters, including myself, began to wonder how a modern-day Girona would function without Pablo Machín at the helm.
A man and a manager that will always be synonymous with improving the club tenfold, ultimately leading to their promotion to the Spanish top flight, Machín embodies the many values that the club pride itself on.
In many ways, losing a man like Machín around the club is more than simply parting company with your manager. An integral part of the club’s modern history and an individual that has brought so much to the club in such a short space of time – one that will be very difficult to replace?
So if Machín is to depart, and Girona is without a manager heading into the 2018/19 season, with Pablo himself openly admitting that he has always had offers from elsewhere, where do Girona go from here?
Was the club’s partnership with the City Football Group undertaken with this potential outcome in mind? Do they promote from within, just as their Catalan neighbours have often done? Or, do they follow in the same mold that led the club to Machín in the first place, plumping for a relatively unknown outsider who could just bring something fresh, new and exciting to the club?
Although all of this is merely speculation as it stands, one thing for certain is that whoever eventually decides to succeed Machín if he leaves the club has big shoes to fill. Even should Pablo openly admit that he plans to leave for a bigger club, bigger challenge, life-changing amount of money or resources to work with, there will definitely be no bad feeling between him and Girona supporters.
After all, it was down to Machín’s coaching and man management which transformed a side made up largely of Segunda division players (some even from lower tiers than that) into a side capable of competing with the very best in La Liga.
Between both, there would remain enormous admiration of each other’s effect on the club, most notably during Girona’s promotion-winning season, with any ill-feeling cast to one side in favour of mere acceptance and understanding of Machín’s personal situation. For now, however, if quotes by club director Quique Carcel and Machín himself are anything to go by, conversations of a new contract and discussions between both parties have been put to one side as the club focus on making further “historia” in their quest for European football.
Although very much still the elephant in the dressing room, each other’s self-belief in their own capabilities has always meant that Machín brings the best out of his players and vice versa. Therefore, don’t expect that attitude to alter anytime soon, even with the types of rumours and speculation not just about Machín, but also a highly sought after Cristhian Stuani, beginning to arise in recent days.
At least in the public eye, it’s business as usual for Girona and their players, doing their very best to control all that they can to put themselves in the very best position for qualifying for the Europa League. Most recently the bulk of Girona players left behind this international break went to a local go-karting track, perhaps an attempt this last week to keep team morale as high as possible heading into a tough and tricky part of the season.
They may well be on track for now, but who knows just how many twists and turns are left in Girona’s ongoing drama both on and off the pitch in the next few weeks and months.