Brighton and Hove Albion have confirmed the appointment of Oscar García as Gus Poyet's replacement at the Amex Stadium, with the former Barcelona midfielder taking up the newly created role of "head coach".
García, who coached within the youth set-up at Barça before leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to their first Israeli title in a decade in his first season in senior management, will take up the reins on Thursday as the players step up their pre-season preparations. "I am delighted to have the opportunity to work in English football for the first time," he said. "Brighton and Hove Albion is one of the most exciting and progressive clubs in the country."
The 40-year-old's arrival as a head coach rather than "manager" appears to stem from Poyet's on-going appeal against his dismissal after almost four years at the south coast club, his sacking having been confirmed publicly on Sunday once the Championship side had concluded an internal disciplinary process against the Uruguayan. Brighton had concluded that Poyet was guilty of breaches of contract having initially suspended him following the team's defeat to Crystal Palace in the play-off semi-finals last month.
The club's chairman, Tony Bloom, had since indicated that no permanent successor would be appointed until that appeal process – Poyet is seeking compensation worth up to £2.5m – had been concluded, with resolution not anticipated for at least another three weeks. Yet, with the players having returned for pre-season preparations earlier this week, Brighton have now circumnavigated that issue by securing García, who departed Tel Aviv at the end of last season citing personal reasons, in the newly created brief.
He will be joined at the Amex Stadium by Maccabi's head fitness coach, Juan Torrijo Navaro, and the assistant coach Ruben Martínez. The Israeli club's sports director Jordi Cruyff said: "We fully understand their desire to continue their partnership with Oscar García." Poyet's assistant Mauricio Taricco, who was also suspended last month but had since had his ban lifted, has now left by mutual consent while another coach, Charlie Oatway, remains banned pending the conclusion of an internal investigation.
García spent six years at Barcelona, from 1993 to 1999, and played alongside Pep Guardiola in that time, before spells with Valencia and Espanyol. He coached within the Catalans' youth set-up for a further three seasons before taking over in Tel Aviv last summer.