Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Hector Moreno injured

With Everton and former coach Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham Hotspur negotiating with the club for the rights to Hector Moreno, it looked like we would net a hefty fee and it would have a domino effect on the type of player(s) we could sign in the Summer transfer window, which is why it was such a shock during the first half of the Mexico v Netherlands Round of 16 match to watch in horror as Moreno slid into a tackle on Arjen Robben and immediately I knew something was wrong.

It was a freak injury, it looked the normal everyday tackle in the box, but he began writhing in pain and he wouldn't get up. There was a delay of more than a minute to stabilize him, he bore weight on it and tried taking some tentative steps but he collapsed soon after. They stretchered him off and the preliminary reports were a fractured left tibia near the ankle. He'll be operated this Wednesday back home in Guadalajara. He'll be out for 6 months.

There are reports we're looking at former perico Victor Ruiz at Valencia. They bout him for 7.5 million euros and we're seeking a 2 million euro insurance payment from FiFA for the injury so that may happen. Ruiz is not valued by Los Che.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Marvelous Minority

On Monday Espanyol launched a new campaign that they dubbed "Maravillosa Minoria" or Marvelous Minority in which they intend to "publicly project the DNA and the characteristics of the club and its fans," an initiative that according to club sources, "goes beyond just retaining and increasing the number of members." They seek to create in RCD Espanyol an alternate cultural brand, a civic pride for the city of Barcelona that includes "all those who are curious, restless, nonconformists and those who are aware that one way of thinking can't be deemed thinking at all." This new campaign will be rolled out soon on panels, buses, billboards and digital banners, as well as through the normal channels of the club. It'll continue through the coming months in new promotions for this new "Alternative Pride" for citizens who have chosen to side with the blue-and-whites. They added, "You'll never be the majority, but fortunately for the world you'll never cease o exist. Our vocation is our voice."

Look, I am all for campaigns that increase awareness of Espanyol as a civic brand, if London has a bushel of teams and Madrid have four genuine Primera clubs, then Barcelona can at least have two clubs that define the city. I'm not talking politics either. This is not a Catalan versus Castilian issue. Not everyone that was born in Catalunya believes in separating from Spain; not everyone who considers themselves an FC Barcelona fan supports a free Catalunya. They are a global brand. They are not just mes que un club anymore. Nowadays, they are mes que Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain or even Europe, which just illuminates their hypocrisy even more.

Instead, I believe we have it in us to be an alternative both in the city and abroad. When we lost to Sevilla in penalties at the 2007 UEFA Cup final in Glasgow, our supporters traveled and made connections with Scots and many of them became fans if they couldn't be socios at first.We have this network ready to be accessed, but we have to think of ourselves as a club worthy of it. It's our time now.
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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Espanyol to play in England

A newspaper in Cambridge, England is reporting that local club Cambridge United will host Espanyol, Shaktar Donetsk, and Premier League side West Ham in what they're billing as the Absolute Travel Cup taking place at their ground the R Costings Abbey Stadium on July 19 and 20. There will be two fixtures on each day, similar to that of the Emirates Cup which Arsenal FC hosts every year, but I'm not sure if they will use the points system used there. Much like the Amsterdam Tournament that Ajax hosts every year, they award 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and additional points awarded for goals to determine a winner.

Either way it's a great opportunity to extend the brand I guess, for marketing purposes and the like, but I'd rather for new coach Sergio Gonzalez to have a few more weeks in training, installing his system and vetting players before traveling to England.
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Mauricio Pochettino hired by Tottenham

Tottenham have, as has been reported in the English press, hired former Southampton and Espanyol coach Mauricio Pochettino. Now, I confess that I am not all that informed on Spurs and their situation in the Premier League, nor the reasons why a Spurs fans are complaining other than hiring a coach who "failed" in Spain, but as an Espanyol fan who has followed the career path of the "Sheriff of Murphy" for many years I think this a brilliant hire.

Obviously, if he were that great a coach why did Espanyol fire him then? Well, there are many reasons why a coach is let go. The club is looking for a boost, his methods aren't working, or a million other reasons really if you examine them closely, but the results just weren't there. Pochettino had left his former club last on the table with 9 points from 12 matches and it took his replacement, former Mexico international manager Javier Aguirre, the better part of the last two months to dig them out of that hole. Why then hire, as some have said, "a guy with a 33% winning record (in Spain) and can't speak a word of English?"

I'm no Pochettino apologist. He was ultimately responsible, and I gave reasons why he should have been fired in this article from a few years back, but I rate him as a football manager and so did many in Spain. When Jose Mourinho was enduring his annual bating session with the Madrid press early in 2011 Pochettino had lowly Espanyol fighting for a Champions League slot and his name was being bandied about as a possible replacement at Real Madrid. Sampdoria had him as much hired in Summer 2012; the deal was set and the Italian club had paid the 1.5 million euro clause in his contract to speak to the Argentine, before Pochettino ultimately turned them down. There were other clubs in Spain that had inquired, he could have moved to any number of La Liga clubs over the last few years, but he stayed at Espanyol because he believed in his "project" - a word he used often.

He was a first choice center-back for Espanyol, club-captain, and the one foreign-born player to have played the most for the Catalan club. He played under Marcelo Bielsa in Argentina, Jose Antonio Camacho in Spain and Luis Fernandez in France amongst others. His leadership skills are evident, but despite getting his coaching badges fairly promptly, in the same year (2008) as other illustrious former players like Fabrizio Ravanelli, Alessandro Costacurta, and Roy Keane, Pochettino had only a very short term as an assistant in Espanyol’s very successful women’s squad before given the reigns. When he was hired in March of 2009, the club were on the verge of another relegation struggle. They were dead last as late as Round 30, but Pochettino made his much-reported pilgrimage to the Madonna at Montserrat and a bit of contrived myth-making saved Espanyol and gave Pochettino some leeway. It is to be said that Espanyol won eight of their last ten matches and finished a comfortable tenth that year. He has it in him to turn Spurs around.

He believes in vetting youngsters, fast-forwarding their progress, and like many of his country-men believes that attacking football is paramount, emphasizing the fundamentals of ball-control and possession, but he's no naive purist. He's is sides also defend well, favors the 4-2-3-1 that is ubiquitous nowadays and when he had the players at Espanyol he won games. When you have the sort of turn-over that Espanyol have had over his tenure, losing more than half the squad every year, you expect to lose games, but Pochettino lengthened the inevitable fall.

Did he have a "fractious relationship with his players" as ESPN is quoted? Sure, but when he took over the squad was run by a player committee of veterans that were a good part of the reason why the club were playing so poorly. He is a tough and demanding tactician and there are no automatic slots in his first team. He'll bring out the best in his players or they won't play long. I realize that Spurs supporters aren't too pleased with the hiring of a manager with so little experience "managing at a top-club" but in the long-run this may the best decision the south coast club made all year. By the way, as some English pundits have noted recently, his English is actually not all that bad.
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Friday, May 30, 2014

Hector Moreno to Manchester United

I realize we are a selling club. It'll be our reality for at least the next generation and a half and I'll probably never see the end of it. We owe a ton of money from building Cornella-el Prat and there's a tax bill due that we can't pay, so I'm not worried about losing starting center-back and Mexican international Hector Moreno to Inter Milan or (as rumored) Louis van Gall's Dutch Manchester United project. Either way is alright with me. Just get what he's worth on the market: 20 million euros or more and I'll be alright with it. He's first choice for Mexico at the heart of defense. Other than that or he can sit at the end of the bench and see his prospects dwindle.
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Monday, May 26, 2014

New Espanyol Coach: Sergio Gonzalez

As expected, Espanyol will not take a route to excite and galvanize the fans by choosing a candidate like Pepe Mel or Luis Garcia, one with experience in the top-flight, or even bringing in as reported someone like either Athletic-B coach José Angel "Cuco" Ziganda or ex-Osasuna coach Javi Gracia, but instead name Espanyol-B coach Sergio Gonzalez.

It's a route worth exploring, it's worked before when they plucked a very inexperienced Mauricio Pochettino out of the youth ranks and flung him at a desperate relegation fight, but Sergio is no club-legend like Mauricio Pochettino whose influence both amongst the youngsters he called through the revolving door that is Cornella-el Prat and in the boardroom was significant. He was a serviceable mid-fielder for Depor in the last decade before hanging up his boots and he did come in as a sub in  the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan, but he's only been in charge of the B-team since January.

This smacks of another conservative decision run by the scrooges that control the purse-strings on the board. Oh, to have leadership that has even a bit of vision to galvanize support rather than a group that is content to mire itself mid-table free from the dangers of relegation.
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