Just over half way through the season and fans are finally beginning to see the potential of the new Espanyol side. Since arriving, 5 games ago, Earle has seen the team more than double their points in the league to 13 points. Two draws, with AZ and Udinese, provided a slow start to Earles reign. A loss to Malaga then left the club in a seemingly no better situation than before the employment of their new manager. However during their week long stay in Italy to face Torino and Genoa glimmers of hope emerged. Going 1-0 down to Torino looked to send the Spaniards into panic mode launching an ‘all out attack’ mentality resulting in Kalifa Coulibaly equalising before Tomas Rosicky earned Espanyol their second win of the season. Following this victory they headed into their next fixture with far more confidence which showed as Fabio Borini scored twice in the first half to gain a lead which Genoa couldn’t come back from. Next up for Espanyol is a tough game against Cologne. They are now within 9 points of escaping the relegation zone which has given many fans and players a new mind-set on the rest of the season.
Many fans are asking what has made the difference since Earles arrival. Since his original 8 signings Earle has made a further 5. Danny Simpson was traded in from Atletico Mineiro in exchange for Juan Fuentes. Nathan Redmond also attracted a huge offer joining from Independiente for Felipe Caicedo and Curtis Davies. Earle said the 22 year old would bring more “excitement” to the team and produce a more “spontaneous” style of play. Jan Kliment has also joined for £1.6 million from KRC Genk, the 22 year old boasts huge potential and Earle hopes he will soon show it. Leonardo Pavoletti and Lasse Sobiech both joined for Olympiacos along with £2 million in exchange for Jonathan Soriano. Earle is still keen to improve his squad with strong interest in Jonas Hofmann and Jesus Corona despite both requiring high bids which Espanyol may not be able to produce yet. It is reported that three other players have been approached by Earle and are likely to join within the next week.
It is also expected that Earle will be cutting his squad before the end of the season. It is thought that Tom Huddlestone, Andreas Weimann, Scott Brown, Younes Kaboul and Jelle Vossen will all be departing once they are available. Earle stated that he wants a “small, compact squad with a positive relationship amongst all players” rather than “a large pot of players who don’t necessarily get along or work together well”. With that said fans are expecting the team to be set to around 25 players.
With 18 games left Espanyol are certainly still in the fight for survival, with several new faces and the potential for more Earle is hopeful the newfound morale will carry the squad upwards through the table.