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The hiring and firing in Rayo's managerial department (4th April, 2017)

Going from having one manager for four seasons to having three just this season, I thought, to feel good amidst the institutional chaos to detail the times Rayo have had more than three managers at the helm.

The first was in the 1995-96 season, when Rayo Vallecano were promoted to the top flight in 1995. This was the season they were jokingly called "Rayo gaditano", as four of Rayo's players (and starters) were from Cádiz: Jose González, Calderón, Barla and Cortijo. Additionally, the interim coach between Zabalza and Marcos Alonso on matchday 8, Francisco Baena, was from there too.

Zabalza had taken over at the start of the season, but was sacked after just seven games - having picked up just one win (3-2 at home against Valencia), and with Rayo at the foot of the table. Baena's game in charge was a 2-2 draw at Tenerife.

But it was Marcos Alonso (aka Marcos), the father of current Chelsea left-back Marcos Alonso, who steered the ship. In his first ever managerial experience, and at the age of just 36, Marcos took Rayo to as high as 14th in the league, as well as a famous 2-1 win against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu, a game that led to institutional chaos and the sacking of Jorge Valdano. Moreover, Rayo went on to win three games in a row in a very similar way as Paco did in the 2013-14 season. A 2-1 win at Albacete, a 2-0 home win against Real Sociedad, followed by a 2-1 win at Racing Santander. Before what was the 30th jornada they were 19th, and by the 32nd Rayo were 14th.

But a seven game winless run followed, Marcos was sacked, and Fernando Zambrano came in with Rayo 21st in the table. Miraculously, Zambrano led Rayo to two wins from the last three games, which led to a relegation playoff against Mallorca, decided by an 81st minute winner by Onésimo at a packed Vallekas stadium.

The second time there were four managers was during the 2002-03 season. It was strange for a number of reasons - Rayo were relegated, having come last with just seven wins, and yet had won against 4th place Celta (twice), 6th placed Barcelona, 8th placed Betis and 11th placed Osasuna. It was strange because the top scorer was  Julio Álvarez with eight goals - a midfielder, it must be noted.

It was also strange, of course, for having four different managers.

Fernando Vázquez took over and lasted 18 jornadas before being sacked, having left Rayo in 18th place with five wins - those five wins being against Racing Santander, Celta, Barcelona, Betis and Osasuna. Caretaker duties then fell on José Luis Martín, whose sole game in charge was a 2-1 loss at Recreativo. Gustavo Benítez then took over the reigns for ten games (two wins), followed by Antonio Iriondo for nine (winless), but Rayo never really challenged for safety.

And the very next season, there would be another four managerial spells. Julen Lopetegui would take charge for 10 games, but with just two wins his first managerial experience was over within a couple of months, after which he would leave managing for a while to work as a commentator. Caretaker duties once again fell on José Luis Martín, whose sole game in charge, once again, was a 2-1 loss - this time at Tenerife.

Jorge D'Alessandro would take the reins and initial signs were promising - Rayo won their first three (yes, consecutive) games under his wing - 2-1 wins against Sporting de Gijón, Almería and Málaga B - which took Rayo from 21st to 14th. But two wins from the next 10 game meant that Rayo were in 19th, back in the drop zone, and a new manager was predictably on his way. José Francisco 'Txetxu' Rojo oversaw the final 18 games, and while four wins in that period meant that Rayo still had a slim shot at survival on the final day, a 2-1 loss at Vallekas against Las Palmas meant that both teams on the field were going down. And - because of how other results went - a win wouldn't have changed anything anyway.

What followed were four long, dark seasons in the Segunda B....

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