Fran Escriba

Madrid, Aug 11 (IANS) Former Getafe and Elche coach Fran Escriba is set to be named the new coach of Villarreal after Marcelino Garcia’s shock exit from the Spanish football club late on Wednesday, local media reported Thursday.

Marcelino’s successful three and a half year spell in charge of the club came to a sudden end after a reported breakdown in relations with his players and an argument with the club directors, reports Xinhua.

His departure came just 24 hours after striker Roberto Soldado broke a cruciate ligament in his knee and less than a week before Villarreal play the first leg of their key Champions League qualifying round against Monaco.

Escriba is a surprise appointment as Marcelino’s replacement. The 51-year-old spent three years at Elche taking them to the Primera Liga and avoiding relegation before joining Getafe in the summer of 2015 after Elche were relegated for financial irregularities.

His spell at Getafe was not as successful, and he was sacked in April after less than a season in charge following a run of 12 games without a win as Getafe eventually slipped to relegation.

Former Manchester City and Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini had initially been tipped for a return to the club he led to the semi-finals of the 2006 Champions League. But the speed with which Villarreal have moved for Escriba implies he was always first choice to replace Marcelino.

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