Welcome to my season 4 2019-2020 opening post. After last year’s excellent showing I am looking to build on what we have achieved. For anybody reading this for the first time here is a quick recap: Season 1 was all about me finding my feet at the club we finished 11th in the league and made a transfer profit of just over £50m which put us in a very good financial position. Season 2 ended up being a topsy turvy time we struggled with injuries and at one point thought we might get dragged in to a relegation battle but we regrouped and finished the season in 13th position which disappointed me because I felt we would be knocking on the door of European qualification, we managed to reach the Spanish Cup Final were we lost to Real Madrid. Season 3 A big improvement saw us finish 4th to qualify For the Champions League Playoff round. So on to season 4….
During the window we said goodbye to a few first team fringe players they were Goalkeeper Asier Riesgo left for Pamplona in a £1m deal, Ezequiel Rescaldani was next to leave with the forward joinig Getafe for £5m. Iñaki Peña joined Lazio for £1.6m, Granada then came in for Jon Gaztanaga who joined them for £3m. Incoming transfers saw us bring in 3 permanent players with the first being David Silva who despite being in the later years of his career joined us for £800k after being listed by Manchester City. Silva will bring a wealth of experience with him and will be used to tutor some of our younger players. We then went out and added Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa for £4.9m. Our biggest transfer of the summer was the record equalling £10m for playmaker Marco Grujic from Red Bull Leipzig. We have also secured the season long loan of midfielder Manuel Locatelli from AC Milan.
The New Pirlo ?
Meet Marko Grujic a Serbian midfielder who I think has all the attributes to play the Pirlo role. I purchased him from Red Bull Leipzig for £10m.
After last seasons performance the board have upped their expectations, they are expecting Europa League qualification via our League position and for us to reach the group stage of the Champions League and the semi final of the Spanish Cup.
Our chance to qualify for the Champions League group stage was to navigate the playoff round. We drew Dynamo Kiev.
Best Placed Playoff 1st Leg
With the first leg away in Russia I chose the following side with a defensive mentality to get the result. I was hoping we could grab a vital away goal and keep it tight at the back. After just 3 minutes Niang gave us a vital 1-0 lead, great start. We looked solid at the back and pressed for a 2nd until we were delt a blow just after the half hour mark when Kiev raided our left back area and swung a cross in to the centre for Junior Moraes to finish at the front post 1-1. Then it was our turn on 38 minutes Rodri fired home for our second away goal….come on boys….concentrate. Our defensive line was breached again but this time the cross looked like we were going to deal with it when unfortunately Diego Reyes in the 41st minute headed past our own keeper 2-2 at the break. I told the lads that I was not happy and wanted to see something different after the break. We started the 2nd half on the front foot and got our reward when Diego Reyes nodded home in the 64th minute putting us 3-2 up. Inside the last ten minutes we got a 4th goal courtesy of Niang his 2nd of the night. The game ended 4-2 to us giving us an advantage going in to the 2nd leg.
Match Highlights Of The 1st leg in Kiev
Best Placed Playoff 2nd Leg
A goalless draw on the night put us in to the Champions League group stage.
Champions League Draw
We settled down for the draw in Zurich with excitement, the club was about to be drawn out alongside some of the best club sides in the world, this is a big deal for Eibar and the draw has pitted us against Bayern Munich, Napoli and Ajax. What a draw for us we are certainly going to be up against it but this is what we want to be able to rub shoulders with the World’s best clubs.
So we are ready for the season ahead, we have a squad of 24 players who will need to be at their best with us competing in 3 competitions meaning good squad rotation to get the best out of our squad. Since I have been in charge at Eibar the club financially have gone from strength to strength, our bank balance on day 1 at the club was just under £7m today the balance is just over £70m which is not bad for a club our size. The capacity of our stadium as increased to 15,000 from 6,300 and the board announced last season they are looking for a suitable site to build a new stadium. The youth team and B team were both in poor shape but today we have a healthy looking future with both the youth team and B team littered with potential stars for the future. Going back to the financial side whilst I have improved the quality of the squads at the club I have kept a firm grip on wages. We are bringing in £45m per season in T.V revenue thanks to the good deal here in Spain. The Champions League Playoff win as brought another £10m in to the club. On the pitch we are using a defensive mentality along with fluid or very fluid to keep our shape a lot better, I have been watching a number of games in full to identify what we are doing well and not so well. The defensive mentality along with a number of attacking roles is allowing us to use possession as a key tool in our game plan, we are keeping the ball and then breaking with good intensity against the bigger clubs. The arrival of Marko Grujic has our Pirlo type player in the defensive strata is giving us a very different option to what we have had in previous seasons. In the first 2 seasons I was he’ll bent on pressing the life out of our opponents but on reflection and analysis the aggressive pressing was actually depriving us of counter attacking teams which prevented us from opening teams up. So a compromise was needed and the defensive mentality has proven to be successful for us along with us only pressing certain positions which I will look at in another post. Thanks for reading this post, I have already started drafting my next update so keep an eye out later this week to find out how season 4 and the effect of European football is having on us, so until then enjoy your week and keep safe.
The Eibar Model So Far :
2019-2020 Liga BBVA ? Champs Lge ? Copa Del Rey ?
2018-2019 Liga BBVA 4th Pos Copa Del Rey Q-Final Super Cup Run-Up
2017-2018 Liga BBVA 13th Pos Copa Del Rey Run- Up
2016-2017 Liga BBVA 11th Pos Copa Del Rey 5th Round