Football: Sevilla sack cancer-stricken coach Berizzo

Berizzo (above) has been sacked a week after returning to work following surgery.
Berizzo (above) has been sacked a week after returning to work following surgery.PHOTO: AFP

MADRID (REUTERS) - Sevilla sacked coach Eduardo Berizzo on Friday (Dec 22) following a run of poor results, with the Argentine departing a week after he returned to work following an operation to treat prostate cancer.

“Sevilla FC would like to express its gratitude to Berizzo for his professionalism, the work he has delivered and his treatment of all the members of the club since his arrival,” the club said in a statement announcing the dismissal.

The Liga side added that discussions had already begun to appoint a new manager, who is expected to join the club after the winter break.

According to reports in the Spanish media, former Malaga and Rubin Kazan coach Javi Gracia is the favourite to succeed Berizzo, while former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique’s name has also been mentioned.

Sevilla are without a win in their last four games in all competitions and lost 3-1 at Real Sociedad on Wednesday to stay fifth in the Liga standings on 29 points, 13 behind leaders Barcelona.

The club, who finished fourth in La Liga last season, came second in Champions League Group E behind Liverpool and will face Manchester United in the last 16.

News of Berizzo’s cancer diagnosis came the morning after Sevilla’s thrilling 3-3 draw at home to Liverpool in the Champions League group stage on Nov 21.

He underwent surgery seven days later and was forced to miss four games, including a 5-0 defeat at Real Madrid.

Berizzo was given a rapturous reception from supporters at Sevilla’s Sanchez Pizjuan stadium when he returned to the dugout for last Friday’s 0-0 draw at home to Levante.

He came in for considerable criticism in the Spanish media, however, following the 3-1 loss at Real Sociedad.

The 48-year-old faced questions about his team selection and his marginalising of midfielder Steven Nzonzi, who has not featured since the draw with Liverpool.

Berizzo was named Sevilla coach in June after Jorge Sampaoli left the club to take charge of Argentina. He had been in charge of Celta Vigo for the previous three seasons.