A stage at Espanyol is over. The blue and white club made official this Friday the dismissal of both its sports director, Francisco Joaquín Pérez Rufete, and the first team coach, Vicente Moreno, who appeared before the press accompanied by the CEO, Mao Ye, to say goodbye and thank the club for their confidence, in addition to assuring that his dismissal "is surely the best decision".
"It is not necessary to put on a mask. In recent times the atmosphere has been rarefied and it is surely the best decision. Everything has a beginning and an end. You have to accept it," explained the coach, sadly, at the press conference of his goodbye , where he said goodbye quietly and without reproaches towards the board and its president, Chen Yansheng, who decided to dispense with his services two days before the end of the League, when permanence had already been achieved mathematically.
"Thanks to the club for giving me the opportunity to say goodbye to everyone in what has been my home for two years. When the possibility of coming to Espanyol arose, we took a picture of what we could find. We were aware that the team was in a traumatic situation with relegation, where practically the only new faces were going to be ours, which implied a complicated scenario. It has been worth working in a club that is extraordinary in every way", began his speech from Massanassa, who had a contract until June 2023.
Moreno was the coach who returned the team to First Division last year and the one who has achieved salvation this year, which was the first objective. The technician valued his work. "We have met all the goals we set for ourselves," he said. Despite sealing the permanence in the previous day, thanks to Mallorca's draw, Espanyol had practically assured a place in First Division next year for several days, a situation that according to the Valencian has lost perspective. "We have achieved it with solvency. We have sealed it this day but we had already achieved it eight days ago. That also has bad things. Getting it so soon takes away its value," he said.
The coach was "very excited" about next year, when Espanyol had to make "a leap in quality". "I wanted to explain this, but above all say goodbye and thank everyone, especially those who gave me the opportunity to come. First to the president and then to Rufete," Moreno continued before dedicating a few words to his pupils, since "the coach's work is not possible without the performance of the players", and finally to the fans: "In all this time I have felt loved, especially by the ordinary fan, whom you meet at the gas station, in the mall..., Today, in social networks, in recent times, due to many circumstances, the atmosphere has been rarefied".
"This two-year process has been worth it. I'm satisfied. Espanyol has tremendous growth potential and if everyone goes hand in hand, I'm sure they'll get it", concluded Moreno, who in these last league games against Valencia and Granada will be replaced by the subsidiary's coach, Luis Blanco, while in the offices Domingo Catoira, until now technical secretary, will hold the position of sports director to replace Rufete.
With the Moreno and Rufete stage closed, around 1:00 p.m., Espanyol barely took a few minutes to inaugurate a new period with the presentation of Catoira, a "key player" according to Mao Ye. "We are all very happy with his work. We believe that it is time for him to take a step forward and that is why we give him confidence," said the leader, who took the opportunity to justify the dismissal of the Valencian coach.
"It is a new beginning that we have been working on for a long time, although sometimes some decisions are surprising. We always said that we were clear about the decisions and the moment. What has happened during the morning we had decided for a long time. After the salvation, the president met with the people involved in this decision out of honesty. Those professionals deserved it. They are the decisions that we believe are best for the new project", he justified before giving way to the new sports director, whose contract, which expired in June 2023, will be extended.
"The future must have the Catoira stamp without detracting from the work of before, which always adds up. My professional career speaks of a club person more than someone related to people. Both in Valencia and in Valladolid I acquired a background that allows me to assume this challenge. I am not leaving behind anything that I have experienced in order to continue growing", the new head of the sports area was introduced, who arrived in June 2020, shortly before the descent was certified, hand in hand with Rufete.
The main unknown of the new project is the coach, who did not want to give clues although he made the intentions of the blue and white entity clear: "We have a clear profile. It must be a person who brings together enthusiasm, who approaches the fans and identifies with the values and the history of the club. That's where we're at. We shouldn't be in a hurry, but right".
In the players section, he defended that "it is too soon to make an in-depth analysis of what the squad will be like", but he again gave hints of what the objective is. "Beyond a qualifying issue, we want to excite. First, that the squad feels identified with the fans and vice versa. That a synergy be created with which we achieve objectives above what is established", he valued, in addition to ensuring that Raúl de Tomás "until now it has been fundamental" and the intention is that it continues to be one of the team's benchmarks. "It has a clause (of 70 million), we refer to that situation. We are not putting players on the market," he said.
"Hopefully we can revitalize that essence that Espanyol has with a lot of participation from home players. We want to take another leap. We will assess all the options, but they will surely be important players," he concluded about the new additions.