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Report: Paco Jemez linked to FC Dallas

Paco is actually linked to several MLS clubs, but let’s take a look a what he brings to FCD.

Las Palmas v Rayo Vallecano - La Liga Smartbank Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

It’s been several weeks since Luchi Gonzalez was removed as FC Dallas’ manager and Marco Ferruzzi was installed as the Interim Manager. It was just a matter of time before we started hearing rumors of potential managers, even while Ferruzzi is in the process of making a case to become the manager on a permanent basis.

The first such rumor has appeared with Jaime Ojeda reporting that Spanish manager Francisco “Paco” Jémez Martín is linked to FC Dallas:

To be more accurate, Jemez is linked to several MLS clubs currently with an open managerial position. It should be noted that RSL has interviewed several managerial candidates, and Jemez is not listed amongst them.

Ojeda goes on to finish his tweet by making the observation that Paco’s managing philosophy lines up best with FC Dallas. So let’s see if that observation bears any truth.

Jemez is a former player who spent the majority of his professional career in La Liga as a tough-tackling central defender, with 21 caps with the Spanish National Team. The 51-year-old began his managerial career in 2007, having managed seven different clubs in 13 years. It should be noted that Jemez has actually held 10 different managerial positions, but he has actually managed three clubs twice (Cordoba, Las Palmas, and Rayo Vallecano), and has even managed Liga MX club Cruz Azul (2016-2017).

Jemez’s last managerial position was at Rayo Vallecano (2019-2020), and it is his final stop that we will be primarily using to discuss his philosophy and tactics. Jemez was brought in at Rayo Vallecano in 2019 with 10 matches remaining and was tasked with saving the club from being relegated out of La Liga. He failed to prevent the club from being relegated, but then lead Rayo Vallecano to promotion back to La Liga in 2020.

Philosophy & Tactics

Jemez is known for an all-attacking style and sticking to his attacking philosophy at all times regardless of the opponent. His most-used formation is the 4-2-3-1, but will also use the 4-1-4-1 and the 4-3-3. His teams are known for switching formations in-game, depending on the phase of the match. Possession is a huge deal, and Jemez’s teams are known for retaining the ball for 57% to 58% of the time, often ranking in the top ten possession teams in the big five leagues. Despite the high level of possession, the team takes so many risks that they rank in the bottom half of possessions lasting longer than 45 seconds, mostly due to the team's penchant for recovering possession quickly.

Jemez likes his teams to play the ball out of the back, something that FC Dallas is already familiar with under Luchi Gonzalez. In the build-up to the attack, the formation will shift to a 3-4-3, with the back three being formed by one of the defensive midfielders dropping between the center backs. The four in the midfield, consist of the remaining center midfielder and the attacking midfielder remaining central, while both modern fullbacks push forward to the wings. The final three are formed by the striker and both wingers.

In this attacking 3-4-3 formation, the goalkeeper will look to play the ball short and the back three will retain possession, inviting pressure from the opponents. If the opponent tries to clog up the center of the field, Jemez will have his team overload one side of the field, in order to create space and isolation opportunities for the unmarked player on the opposite side. If the opponent tries to press in a wider fashion, then Jemez will have his team play the ball centrally to the midfielders, with one of the fullbacks dropping back to create a back four, and the other fullback joining an attack that will take risks going forward. Should the team be unable to break the opponent's pressure, Jemez will not hesitate to have his team play in a more direct manner, often playing direct balls over the top to their center forward. The striker is tasked with holding the ball up, allowing for the whole team to move forward aggressively, allowing the team to win second balls, or to quickly implement a press if they don’t. While the team will take it slow with the short passing in the back, once the team enters the attacking third, they change to a more aggressive more direct approach.

Jemez rarely used the middle of the pitch to attack at Rayo Vallecano. He prefers to overload the middle and create spaces for his wingers/fullbacks. Because of this preference for attacking from the wings, Rayo is known for generating a ton of crosses. Here’s one of his practice sessions, where the team is working on sending in crosses, and also defending them

On defense, his teams are known for their aggressive pressing style. The team applies intense pressure, trying to recover the ball as close to the goal line as possible. The team presses all over the field to the point that they almost man-mark everywhere. Here’s a video of Jemez having his club practice possession and pressing at the same time.

Although in Spanish, here’s a video of a typical attacking/pressing sequence from his team. You’ll see the team attack, and when the ball is turned over, you will then see the team instantly press to force an immediate turnover.

Jemez’s teams will often rank very high in many attacking stats, such as Touches in the Box, Shots taken, Crosses, Dribbles completed, Duels won, and Possession. Paco’s teams often achieve all this with a minimal budget. Rayo Vallecano often had the smallest budget in La Liga during his two managerial stays there. His teams were also known for high player turnover, which often saw double-digit turnover in players, with the team consistently replenishing their ranks through youths and free transfers.

This is a manager who tries to win at all costs, and as such, there are many bad losses on his record. Jemez was a tough challenging tackler as a player, and he expects his teams to play that way, often leading to his teams being heavily flagged.

Finally, if Jemez does become the new manager for FC Dallas, the player who would be the biggest winner, would be Jesus Ferreira. Jemez prefers to use a false 10 (attacking midfielder/forward), and this player tends to be the highest scorer on his teams. This attack would suit Chuy’s playing style like a glove, and place him in the best position to succeed. A close second would be someone like Brandon Servania, as Paco likes midfielders who can play two-way ball and can cover a lot of ground.

So what do you think? Is this the type of manager that FC Dallas should be pursuing? Or does FC Dallas need to bring in a more familiar, in-house manager? Let us know your thoughts.