With just the one game remaining in Spain’s Second Division, Torrevieja football coach, Juan Ignacio Martínez, is assured of a mid table finish with his club, Real Zaragoza, something that seemed most unlikely when he arrived from Kuwait in mid-December.
At that stage, with 18 matches played, Los Maños had just two wins to their name and a miserly 13 points on the board. They were firmly ensconced at the bottom of the Segunda league table.
However, since his arrival, JIM has managed to revitalise the squad, reverse the uncertain mood of the players and gain the trust of the local Zaragoza press and fans through hard work and good results.
After the Christmas break, the team surprised everyone by achieving stability and defensive strength, which allowed them to regularly pick up points, climbing up the league table to a position of respectability, having achieved 37 out of 66 possible points since his arrival, being the second-best team in the entire division, only behind the leaders.
His playing career saw him perform only as an amateur, never progressing beyond Tercera, where he ended his days with FC Torrevieja in 1990.
JIM’s managerial career also began at that level, with a short spell at Alicante before moving on to Orihuela and then to FC Torrevieja.
He has since coached at a multitude levels and of clubs both in Spain, including Levante UD in La Liga, in China and in the Middle East with Al-Arabi SC of the Kuwaiti Premier League, who he left for the lure of Real Zaragoza late last year.
Despite his success JIM could be on the move once again. When asked about his future earlier in the week he said it was much too early to say. “Once the season is over we need to take stock, both the owners and myself. We need to decide what is best for the club. I was brought in as a short-term fix. I’m just thankful that I was able to do my job.”