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LA LIGA

Aguirre handed task of hauling Espanyol out of mire

Relegation-threatened Barcelona club turns to seasoned Mexican after Pochettino’s departure

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Former Atlético Madrid coach Javier Aguirre.

Less than 48 hours after parting company with long-serving coach Mauricio Pochettino, Espanyol hired veteran Mexican Javier Aguirre on a short-term contract until the end of the season. Aguirre is a familiar figure on the touchlines of La Liga having previously led Osasuna, Atlético Madrid and Zaragoza.

The Mexican’s remit is quite simple: arrest a slide in fortunes that has seen Espanyol drop like a stone to the bottom of the league with just two wins from 13 matches. Fortunately for Aguirre there are a fair few teams in almost equally dire straits and a couple of decent results will drag Espanyol off the foot of the table swiftly enough. The fixture list is reasonably kind as well: Granada is first up, followed by Sevilla, which Aguirre will have had a chance to run the rule over in last night’s King’s Cup fixture. Real Madrid will provide a good test of how Espanyol is faring under its new coach and then direct relegation rival Deportivo travels to Cornellà-El Prat.

While Aguirre’s ambitions at Espanyol will be unavoidably tempered, the Mexican tactician has decent form in La Liga. He led Osasuna to the qualifying phase of the Champions League and Atlético to the competition proper. He later led his country to the last 16 of the 2010 World Cup and then kept a financially crippled Zaragoza in the top flight in 2011.

Aguirre will be officially presented on Thursday at 1pm before taking charge of his first training session later in the afternoon.