When Unai Emery abandoned Sevilla in June after three successful seasons, the Europa League champions were forced to undergo an unwelcome coaching shake-up and hired former Chile boss Jorge Sampaoli.
That move has turned into a blessing in disguise for Sevilla.
Under 56-year-old Sampaoli’s guidance, Sevilla have lost just once in nine La Liga games and Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Atletico Madrid lifted the Andalusians to second place – one point behind leaders Real Madrid.
“One is always enthusiastic when the results arrive,” Sampaoli told the club’s website. “But it usually doesn’t come so soon.”
Sevilla, who had won the Europa League for the last three seasons under Emery, are also well placed to advance into the knockout rounds of the Champions League as they are level on seven points with Group H leaders Juventus.
With a 100 percent La Liga winning record at their Sanchez Pizjuan stadium this season, Sampaoli appears to be pulling the right strings as the team targets their first league title since 1946.
“We want every team that comes to this venue to know what awaits them,” said Sampaoli, who led Chile to Copa America glory in 2015.
“History tells us that (winning the league) is almost impossible. But we have the pride and joy of playing against everyone at their level.”
To chase their goals, Sevilla spent 56.2 million euros ($61.11 million) to bring in 12 reinforcements.
“I’m certain that this new and young team will become a great side,” Sampaoli said.
Sevilla president Jose Castro added: “We are going through a magnificent spell. This doesn’t come from luck but it’s the product of work and perseverance.”