A week in football is a long time, and its been all change at Espanyol in the gaffers first week in charge. The entrance and exit doors have been very busy, with a flurry of activity which has seen some big mainstays of the Espanyol furniture move on to pastures new, and new blood arrive.
“As the song goes ITS a new dawn ITs a new day, is very much the theme and feeling of this new project for me. Its a time for new hero’s to be born and a for us to try and bridge the gap on some of the bigger clubs for the long term, rather than just compete short term. Making all these changes mid season is a massive gamble with the team comfortably in mid table. However the team was quite off the pace in terms of challenging the top 4 and If i’d waited until the season end, some targets may have got rises, transfers elsewhere, whilst my own players could of dropped but would certainly would of got even older and become less attractive to potential suitors. We looked at the Maguire and Koke situation 28 and 29 respectively and probably maxed out in terms of potential. Do they become less valuable in their 30’s? I think when you are trying attract players like Ndidi at 24, worth over £50 million and rising it gets much tougher to get 3 players your way with quality when only parting with two. I think in Ndidi we have a player everyone would love. He is 100% going up to at least 92 in the next update and is the long term Kante in soccer manager. He becomes a massive asset for this club who we can build a team around. Another example would be Raphinha, how long is he staying 89? He is establishing himself as a regular in the Brazil national team and had started this season on fire at Leeds. At just 24 years old joining alongside one of the top scorers in Brazil in Alberto, who is just 20 is very shrewd business when parting with high rated Di Maria 92 and Aspas 91. At 33 and 34 years old, genuinely how many more seasons at the highest level do they have? Where are Espanyol if we don’t cash in at the right time? I’m really pleased with the business we’ve done so far. We don’t need to do an awful lot of business now. We’ve grown the youth team to 17 players, but with some really good prospects in there. In terms of the first team, over the next season or 2, we will look to find a couple of long term centre backs, and fullbacks, and of course the big one is a long term Goalkeeper. Handonovic is currently 37, with our back up keeper not the long term solution. Replacing him is going to be tough given clubs dont want to part with their goalkeepers and many up and coming are already snapped up. The issue with goalkeepers, is once they establish themselves, they tend to keep the number 1 jersey IRL, making it difficult for good goalkeepers who play number 2 or 3 to get gametime, which stops their rating growth. I think Martinez the Argentinian is a great example of this. He has had a mass injection of rises heading into his 30’s due to the number of seasons he couldnt get that number 1 shirt at Arsenal.
Looking ahead, we’ve some tough games coming up against the sides at the top, which is likely to see us have some big losses, and with that a spiral down the table. We play Barcelona tomorrow, who will be licking their lips at the prospect of playing an unsettled Espanoyl, especially as they lost the reverse fixture 3-0. The pressure is on them to keep winning to win the league, my only pressure is to ensure we don’t go down as my judgement will be on my first full season”