'World class' Monchi named President of Football Operations at Villa
Written by Training Ground Guru — June 17, 2023
MONCHI, the Spaniard who has often been described as the best Sporting Director in world football, has been appointed President of Football Operations at Aston Villa.
The move reunites him with Head Coach Unai Emery, with whom he worked at Sevilla and won three Europa Leagues, the Copa Del Rey and the Super Cup.
Chairman Nassef Sawiris said Monchi’s new role “consolidates all football responsibilities at the group.”
This means that Dane Johan Lange, who has been Sporting Director since July 2020, will switch to the new role of Global Director of Football Development and International Academies.
The exact remit of this new role has not been publicly disclosed, although Villa said it would “provide cohesion and continue our successful player development pipeline.”
Villa had been looking for a new Sporting Director to work closely with Emery and had been frustrated in their efforts to land Mateu Alemany from Barcelona.
However, the signing of Monchi is a major coup. The 54-year-old was a (mainly second-string) goalkeeper for Sevilla for 10 years before becoming their Sporting Director when he retired in 2000.
He transformed them from a Segunda División side into perennial European contenders, winning a total of seven Europa Leagues, two Copa del Reys and the European Super Cup during his time at the helm.
The only blot on his Sporting Director CV is his two years at Roma, from 2017 to 2019, which were regarded as having been a failure. The Italian side reached the Champions League semi-final in his first season at the club but he departed in March 2019 following a 3-0 defeat by city rivals that left the team fifth in Serie A.
Later reflecting on that period he said: “In Rome I didn’t have time to correct my mistakes. When I arrived people thought that in addition to signing the players I would score and save penalties.
“The big mistake was that I had to better understand what Roma was. What it stands for the city, the fans and the press. And when I realised it, it was late.”
Soon after he returned to Sevilla and helped them win two more Europa League titles (including last season’s).
In 2017, he said: "I don’t think of myself as the best Sporting Director in the world, but as someone who has had a lot of luck in their career, to which I have dedicated a lot of time and effort. It’s true that I received a lot of offers from other clubs that were certainly interesting because of their names and tradition.
"I don’t believe there is any secret to my work. There are no magic formulas, otherwise I would have sold them already. There are no identical clubs in the world, they all have their own character. In Spain, I was often asked what my secret was and I always gave a fairly unoriginal answer: working hard.
Announcing his appointment at Villa, Sawiris said: “Alongside Unai and his staff, Monchi´s arrival will add to the world-class team we are assembling both on and off the pitch. He is, like Unai Emery, a serial winner.
“With the appointment of Chris Heck on the business side (as President of Business Operations), this new structure will ensure that the club is firing on all cylinders on the commercial side in addition to the football side to ensure that the club’s model is sustainable and positioned well to meet our growing ambitions.”
Monchi said: “I am very excited to join Aston Villa, a great project which is striving for excellence from the Under-9s to the top level, and I completely share the vision of (co-owners) Mr Sawiris and Mr (Wes) Edens.
“I am also delighted and can’t wait to work with Unai Emery again, one of the best managers in football. After enjoying so many years with Sevilla FC and winning several European trophies with my life-long club, I look forward to building on the recent successes at Aston Villa and ensuring this colossal club continues to grow and improve.”
In addition, Damian Vidagany will become Director of Football Operations, working “alongside Unai Emery to manage the day-to-day football operations, support Monchi in his responsibilities and provide a link between the football organisation and the rest of the club’s functions.”
Vidagany joined the club in November as Chief of Staff and Emery’s deputy. He previously worked in senior management positions at Valencia between 2008 and 2017.
Monchi will assume his duties from July subject to receiving a work permit.