You’re not. I have probably been one of his harsher critics here. Yes he has brought the club to a long-awaited top 4 finish but given the state of our rivals this season this should have been wrapped up some time ago.
Credit when it’s due, few managers would have handled the situation better when your team has a main striker who tends to pass any crosses that come his way to opposition goalkeeper, 3 20 million dollar signings who have shown nearly nothing to warrant that price tag, losing 2 strikers in the mid-season window and the team captain one month after the window closes; having 3 fullbacks and 3 center backs to juggle around for a full season and a goalkeeper who gives up a soft goal for every decent stop he makes.
To make it to the Europe on that alone is pretty impressive and one heck of a challenge, the team has also started resembling some tactical sense at times in the second half of the season, which is plus given most top half teams have managers who have been at the helm for at least a season, so progress has been made. Not to mention some robust away performances and doing the double over Betis, that would help any Sevilla manager score points with the fans.
Yet, Lope still has some drawbacks, the team doesn’t really play well against the bottom clubs, drawing at home and then losing to Celta Vigo, draws to Alaves and Espanyol at home and near losses to Valladolid at home where everyone was questioning his logic, I also think that in both matches against Madrid the team was flat and created nothing of note. Some have noted that some new arrivals have done nothing, I get the feeling that Monchi only paid for those players according to Lope’s requirements, so he should have players he reckons could play his desired style, but either they don’t fit or he hasn’t gotten through to them.
The club’s bid for Europe was also helped by Betis and Valencia having become pedestrian after strong seasons last year, Atletico Madrid were also pretty poor and drab for the first half before finishing off Liverpool and Simeone rallying his troops for a strong second half of the season, Getafe were also in front before a 3-0 victory by Sevilla stopped them dead in their tracks - they have only won twice in ten games since. Real Sociedad were another team very much in the hunt but the football ban came and they have done very poorly after the restart, losing 5 out of 8, in an ordinary season this would not have happened. There were also games where the result could have gone either way but sometimes they got lucky - look at the number of penalties awarded to them or the players fought through for those points - these come up massively at the end of the season and it’s showing with only 2 games left.
All in all, Lope did contribute to Sevilla making it to Europe again but he has not won me over entirely. Some draws to bottom teams were just pathetic and his in-game management could also be improved - when everything isn’t working he just throws in a 3-5-2 overload and hopes something will stick, substitutions could also be better are some are ineffectual and others just head-scratching, remember Lopes on 89’? He has earned the right to lead the club going into next season but the jury is still out on whether he is here for good, he is also the first manager to see the whole season through in the last 3 seasons so some stability would be welcome. I look forward to how he can lead the team in the Europa knockouts where they only play one game and the likes of Wolves and a rejuvenated Manchester United are likely opponents.
tl;dr version: credit where it’s due but has not entirely won me over.
Season rating (as of today): B