Oliva feels the wrath of Piterman

February 16, 2006

MADRID, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Alaves president Dimitry Piterman has fired coach Juan Carlos Oliva after just over a month in the job for refusing to follow his orders over team selection for this weekend's match against Real Madrid.

'For me it was a type of insubordination,' Piterman told a news conference on Thursday. 'Here people are not independent and the coach is not at liberty to say or do what he wants. End of story.

'He's been dismissed and I don't know what plans he has for the future.'

Oliva, who was Alaves's third coach of the season, was appointed on Jan. 9 after Chuchi Cos quit when Alaves had slipped to the bottom of the Primera Liga after a 2-0 home defeat by Real Zaragoza.

He got off to a winning start with a 2-0 victory at Deportivo Coruna and, although his team lost 2-0 away to league leaders Barcelona, they have not lost since.

Alaves are now in 15th place, two points clear of the relegation zone.

Oliva, who gave a separate news conference, said he had been unable to accept the impositions of the club president.

'On Monday he tried to get me to change my plans for Saturday's game and I could not accept that,' he said. 'I am a coach before anything else and have to stick to my principles.

'Dmitry told me my independence had lasted only as long as I was in agreement with him.'

Despite Piterman's decision to fire him, Oliva said he was grateful to the Ukrainian-born American businessman for giving him the opportunity to coach in the Primera Liga.

'I hope these five weeks contribute to helping the team survive in the top flight. If the team does survive I will be the first to be pleased for the fans, the players and for Dmitry.'

Piterman said the team had improved under Oliva, but added that his refusal to field a three-man attack against Real Madrid had sealed his fate.

He went on to dismiss suggestions that the decision might disrupt preparations for Saturday's match at the Bernabeu.

'The players are mercenaries and are only worried about their own money and their families, so I don't think my decision to get rid of Oliva will affect the club's sporting fortunes.'

He added that he hoped to name a new coach by Friday morning.

Piterman, who took a similarly hands-on approach to the presidency when he was in charge of Racing Santander, has got through three coaches this season.

He appointed Rafael Montfort to coach the team in July, but he was sacked after six weeks and Cos, the man who has steered them to promotion the previous season, took his place only to throw in the towel in January.