LONDON: Struggling La Liga side Alaves said on Tuesday they have appointed Javi Calleja as their new coach, and will be hoping the veteran of relegation battles can lift their club out of the drop-zone.
The Basque side sacked coach Abelardo Fernandez on Monday, a day after losing 3-1 at home to Celta Vigo to slip to the bottom of the standings.
Abelardo was the third coach the club have sacked in the past year, dispensing with Asier Garitano last June and Pablo Machin in January of this year.
Calleja has experience in relegation scraps, successfully leading Villarreal away from danger in the 2018/19 season.
He helped them qualify for the Europa League the following campaign, only for the club to appoint Unai Emery instead.
Alaves gained European recognition for playing out a thrilling 5-4 defeat to Liverpool in the 2001 UEFA Cup final but then spent a long spell away from Spain's top-flight, returning only in 2016.
They have stayed in La Liga ever since but are three points from escaping the relegation zone with nine games remaining.
"This is a very big and difficult challenge but we're highly motivated by it and convinced we can get the job done," said Calleja.
"We're excited about getting started and believe that we'll remain in La Liga next season."