Well it’s been an interesting few months at the club with us being hit by a large number of injuries we have had to dig deep and use a number of 16 and 17 year olds so without further a do let’s have a look at what’s happened since my last update.
August / September 17
We kicked the season off with a 2-0 win against Real Betis followed by a 0-0 draw at Sporting Gijón before a fantastic 3-2 win against FC Barcelona. Forgive me for thinking we are looking good. Two away defeats to Valencia 0-1 and Atlético Madrid 1-2 didn’t extinguish my optimism for the season ahead then a 0-0 draw against Celta Vigo and injuries to Sergi Enrich and Carlos Fernandez left us with a bad taste.
A difficult month started with two defeats against Deportivo 1-2 and Getafe 0-1 and another forward Rescaldani injured. We then picked a point up with a 0-0 draw against Granada. Next up a Basque derby against Real Sociedad and a makeshift front line with Iker Muniain playing in the defensive forward role and scoring the only goal of the game to give us a 1-0 win after an incredible backs to the wall performance. We ended the month with a 1-0 defeat to Real Oviedo after being reduced to ten men with Dani García red carded for a shocking tackle.
Just three games this month with the first a 0-1 defeat against Levante with the squad looking jaded a team meeting was needed to try and give the squad a boost. A welcome return to the side for Sergi Enrich for the 1-1 draw against high flying Espanyol,and yes you guessed it Enrich got our goal before limping off in the dying minutes with a slight knock. Another makeshift front line for the derby against Athletic Club and a 0-2 defeat that leaves us in 17th position in the table and a possibility of a relegation battle. Time to roll the sleeves up and dig deep.
Despite opening the month with a 1-3 defeat to Malaga, we start to show what we are made of with our forwards returning from injury. The Spanish Cup pitted us against Huesca who we beat 2-0 away and 2-1 at home to advance to the next round. We pulled off a super 2-2 draw against Real Madrid who were fortunate to grab a point with a last gasp equaliser to deny us all 3 points. Next a 0-2 defeat to a classy looking Sevilla side led by Marcelo Bielsa. We then played a friendly againt Cacereno which gave me the chance to give some game time to our fringe players including 16 year old forward Angel Leal who netted for us in a 2-0 win. We then ended the month and year with a 1-1 draw against Las Palmas.
A new year and a newly found belief and my best month results wise since I joined the club. The Spanish Cup 5th round 1st leg game against Numancia 0-0 got the month under way before a 2-1 win against Villarreal gained us much needed 3 points. Back to Cup action next and a Sergi Enrich goal put us through to the Quarter Final with a 1-0 aggregate win over Numancia. A last gasp Dani García goal gave us another 3 points with a 1-0 result against Sporting Gijón. Quarter Final action next and a 2-0 win at El Madrigal against Villarreal. A 3-2 win at Real Betis continued our new found form with goals from Carlos Fernandez 2 and Javi Castellano. 2nd leg against Villarreal ended 1-1 which sets up a Semi Final tie against Real Betis. Before the Semi Final we had a trip to Camp Nou to contend with which produced a seven goal thriller with us losing out to a last minute Luis Suarez strike which flattered Barcelona. We most definitely deserved something out of that game however we hold our heads high. Last game of the month the Spanish Cup Semi Final 1st leg away at Real Betis and a 3-1 win puts us on the brink of history.
Has you can see we are in 14th position and need to continue improving to move away from the relegation zone.
I have secured the loan signing of Esteban Granero from Real Sociedad, Granero is available on a free transfer so I will decide if we will make him a permanent member of our squad later in the season. Granero brings with him guile and experience in playing the Spanish way.
I have also added Trabzonspor playmaker Mehmet Ekici to our ranks for £6.5m a club record transfer. Mehmet along with Granero gives us some much needed quality in depth, he is also a dead ball specialist.
Leaving the club midfielder Adrian Gonzalez has joined FC Porto for £6.75m and 17 year old youth intake goalkeeper Josu Bilbao has been signed by Bayern Munich for £2.9m with a possibility of rising to £14m with add ons which I am very pleased about. Josu will remain at the club in the Under 19’s on loan. I tried to keep him but the lure of playing for Bayern was too much for the youngster to turn down.
I must say I am really enjoying the challenges this save is throwing up and hope the next few months are as exhilarating as the last few. There is something special that bonds you too a club and I am feeling that at the moment with the ups and downs we are encountering. The next youth intake is round the corner so I am looking forward to that. Thanks for taking the time to read this update and hope you look out for our end of season round up later this week.