BCFC: The Spanish Connection

Blues announced on Saturday the addition of Francisco “Paco” Herrera to the coaching staff at St Andrews. The 65-year-old comes to Birmingham City with a wealth of experience at clubs in Spain, along with a spell as assistant manager, chief analyst and scout for Rafa Benitez at Liverpool.

Spanish Flag

Herrera is the third Spanish coach to join the club in recent months after Marta Tejedor (Blues Women) and Xavi Calm (Blues u23).

The influx of Spanish staff coincides with a deepening of the relationship between the club and Spanish third tier side Unio Esportiva Cornella.

The partnership between the two clubs was originally founded in October 2017, and as per the official bcfc.com website was driven by Ren Xuandong.

Ren had been introduced to the company who own Cornella, Nama Sports, by agent James Featherstone.

Nama Sports is a Spanish-Chinese company who are working to bring Spanish football know-how to China.

They run a series of academies in China (not unlike Ren’s former company Winning League), along with a team of Chinese players which competes in the Juvenil Segonia Divisio in Catalonia.

Nama Sports co-founder Ma Dong (no relation) is also President of UE Cornella SAD, while his partner Ignacio “Nacho” Guerrero Vanaclocha is a director.

New Blues under-23 coach Calm was manager of UE Cornella for three seasons and led them last year to fourth place in Segunda Division B and the promotion playoffs where they lost to Ponferradina 3-2 on aggregate in the first round.

Nama Sports were also instrumental in bringing Marta Tejedor to Blues Women.

Blues have extended their partnership with Cornella on the playing front too, with Blues confirming that the club has taken two Cornella players with them to Portugal for their pre-season tour.

While midfielder Agus Medina was a mainstay for Calm last season, forward Ivan Guzman was at fellow Segunda Division B Group 3 side Olot.

As it stands, I have yet to find an announcement of when Guzman joined Cornella this summer.

I don’t believe that Blues are looking to sign either Medina or Guzman, but instead are offering using Medina and Guzman to ensure they can train in the “shape” they intend to play next season.

The final Spanish piece in the jigsaw so far this summer was one that I will admit surprised me.

New coach Paco Herrera has worked with Pep Clotet before at Espanyol and it wouldn’t surprise me if Herrera was brought in to give Clotet a bit more help to manage what must be right now a tricky situation.

Although I think it’s fair to say of late Herrera hasn’t done so well as a manager, with tough spells at both Aris and Las Palmas, I think it would also be true that Herrera would have a wealth of contacts.

That wealth of contacts might be what Blues need right now as they struggle to bring in players for the new season.

I’m hopeful that the arrival of Herrera will help the club protect its interest in staying in the division while maybe offering the attractive football that has been demanded by the ownership.

If that means relying on our connections in Catalonia, so be it.