In barely eight months in office, the 38-year-old Miguel Ángel Ramírez’s change has been as abrupt as it has been striking: his turnaround shows personality, humility and a more than interesting ability to adjust to the context. In other words, learning. Because the Canarian, whose landing at Mareo was a delicate one, has been readjusting his tools: from the discourse to the style of play he applies to Sporting, more adjusted to the idiosyncrasies of the Second Division in order to get results. His relevance in the Group and in the club has also skyrocketed. This is the decalogue of a metamorphosis.
Speech: In his presentation, his first public speech, he used less ordinary language. “I always talk about the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. And maybe the ‘what’, the essence, can be maintained. But the ‘hows’ are changing,” was one of the most striking answers in the press room. Over the months, he has redirected his speech, with a more direct style, avoiding confusion.
Ability to adapt: His humility to recognise that he has “learned from the category” – not common for a professional coach with international experience – and his ability to adapt to the resources he has at his disposal demonstrate his intelligence. Of expressing “I like to be dominant and look at the opponent’s goal. In a war I prefer to go with more soldiers than the enemy” to showing a touch of pragmatism in order to make his team competitive despite renouncing his style. “It’s not about what I want, it’s about what the team and my players need,” admits a coach who puts the team first.
Style of play: As well as having the ability to adapt to the competition and the environment, Ramírez has varied his initial idea of the game: on his arrival he advocated a combinative and precious style. While retaining part of that idea (Sporting are the 7th team with the most possession in La Liga, 54.3%, and he has relied on players such as Nacho Méndez and Roque Mesa), he has managed to make his team reliable, showing an evident ability to adapt to each opponent and moment of the match.
Incidence of his staff: Ramírez is not an authoritarian coach, but his decisions are strongly influenced by his staff, with whom he has a very trusting relationship. Cristóbal Fuentes, Luis Piedrahita or Endika Gaviña are not secondary actors. They have a voice and a vote.
Dressing room management: He hardly distances himself from the players; and, above all, he is very empathetic with the players, who he listens to and gives them their space to express their opinions. His leadership does exist, but it is particular. He is the antiego. Another key aspect: he has a special ability to resolve conflicts. He has managed to ease tensions with a heavyweight like Cali, who was in a delicate situation. Now he is captain, and he has even given him some stripes: he gives the harangues. He has also successfully managed another complex case with Fran Villalba, whom he protects.
The group first: The Canary Islands coach is managing to find results by prioritising the block over individuals. He has made important structural decisions.
Unpopular decisions: Despite the criticism that initially linked his hiring to his supposed harmony with the ownership, he has left Jordan and Jeraldino, the Group’s bets, without playing time, as he considered that other players were ahead of them.
Defensive system: He is managing to stop the defensive bloodletting of the 2022-2023 season, in which the team finished with 48 conceeded goals, and a growing sense of weakness (in the last matchday they conceded 4 goals at home at the hands of a relegated Ponferradina). In the last three matchdays, Sporting is the second team with the least number of goals scored. They have found a triangle that works: Yáñez as goalkeeper and Pier and Insua as central defenders. Pascanu’s risky move to full-back adds more solidity, despite the loss of attacking thrust.
Roque Mesa: Pending the development of the market, in permanent contact with the sporting management, he has been key in the signing of Roque Mesa, which seemed impossible weeks ago. His relationship with the midfielder and common link with Las Palmas helped in the midfielder’s decision. He has also been on top of the rest of the moves, going so far as to pick up the phone to convey to the targets his confidence and make them see the role they were going to play in the project.
Confidence: He has been able to “recover” several players: the clearest case is that of Nacho Méndez, who was coming back from a serious knee injury and who is playing at his highest level since his promotion to the first team. But he is not the only one: Gaspar, with two goals, is also achieving the level he gave during his loan spell at Burgos. He opted to keep Pablo García. And Otero has been strengthened as a “9” and has been given a lot of experience in his second season at the red and white club.