People know Manolo Preciado because he clashed with Jose Mourinho and called him essentially a scumbag two seasons ago. Not many people escape the gravitational pull of the Special One without getting damaged somewhat, but Preciado was just being himself, the no-nonsense everyman who says what he thinks especially when someone disrespects his work and the work-ethic of his team. Who was this primadonna who would question. If he fielded a full-strength or full-effort squad against FC Barcelona? It was as much for him to stand up for himself and his charges as it was to meet with Mourinho later and smooth things over. They know him for his record of taking care of lost-causes and promoting them. They know him more recently for being fired from his last post at Sporting de Gijon; a poor start magnified by loss of talent that would take them on a relegation trajectory consummated by his replacement Javier Clemente who essentially blamed the club's form on Preciado for his lack of vision spending money on too many of the same sort of players.
The criticisms never stuck, one because the press is notoriously dubious when it comes to the scattershot pronouncements of the Basque coach, but that Preciado's work precedes him. It's why he got hired at Racing Santander, the club where he played his club football, why he was so adored at Sporting de Gijon, where he made his name as a top-flight coach, wagering for attractive football on a budget, and being known for coaxing the best out of his players and promoting his squads throughout the entirety of the Spanish footballing pyramid. It's why I knew he would bounce back from the Sporting Gijon firing. Preciado always bounced back.
In the span of a decade Manolo Preciado lost his wife to cancer, his 15 year old son in a car-crash, and his father was run over by a car. Life was not easy for Manolo Preciado, but he thought of his family and soldiered on. It was with a happy heart that I welcomed the news that broke a few days ago; Preciado had been hired by Villarreal to coax another promotion to the Primera Division out of a club starving for his brand of positivity. It was a perfect fit and I was hoping to see the diminutive coach bouncing across the coaching box next season in Segunda. It wasn't to be.
Manolo Preciado passed away yesterday at the age of 54 from an apparent heart-attack after only 24 hours in charge. He was to be presented to the media today. You'll hear all the inspirational stories. You may even read his biography, one that quite ironically was about to be published in his homeland in Cantabria, and hear the platitudes about this humble man from a humble club who diligently did his job far away from the limelight. Stop for a moment and see what the reaction is. The entirety of Spanish football has paused to mourn for him. In every place, at every club where he ever coached or in Villarreal's case would have coached, there are memorials. La Roja, the Spanish National Team, has stopped to mourn a coach that few of them played under. They have even asked UEFA to wear black armbands at the Euros in his memory. In a plastic time filled with plastic people, this is a guy that seemed one of us. He did his job. He was honest and open with the press and he underlined the old adage that you can tell the mark of a man by the number of people that show up at your funeral.
Rest in peace Manolo Preciado. May your journey bring you peace. Thank you for being here. Your life had purpose, it's what we should all strive for.
read more: Manolo Preciado, RIP