Its been a month since Espanyol brought in the new boss, and in that time a lot has happened.
The squad has had a full makeover with no fewer than 12 players added to the youth set up, a feat which has the manager smiling with excitement. “What we inherited here was a side doing well in the league, but with so many players well into their 30’s and on the decline, it was only a matter of time before it caught up with the team and the decline started. Wholesale changes is not always the brightest move, but i’m pleased we made that decision. Our youth team now has 17 players who we won’t be parting with. I’m really excited by some of them and if the updates are kind over the next couple of years we have some serious talent on our hands”.
Away from the youth team, the first team is starting to take shape and results in the main have been promising. The club is picking up points in the league, whilst they jave progressed to the quarter final of the shield. So whats changed? “Our goal per game ratio has increased dramatically, we had far too many draws on the board and not enough wins. We’ve missed Fekir the last three games as he’s started like a house on fire since his arrival from Standard Liege. His creativity has been putting them on a plate for the likes of Aguero. Add into that Sarabia, Raphinha and Under, who are all doing their bit and we have goals in the team. Brozovic has also been chipping in with goals and assist, and has been massive for us since joining. We are only a month in, and we are hoping Ndidi and Raphinha get upgrades on the next English league update. It would further strengthen our first 11, and increase competition for places. We’ve a few players in their early 20s who now need to show their long term worth, and we’ll monitor that over the next season or two. Not everyone can be a 90 plus rated player, and we’ve plenty with promise, but the reality is we are looking at 4 or 5 who could make that transition.”
Espanyol are in a difficult division 1, but there is no excuses from the Manager “its always tough to part with your higher rated players, but we’ve done that with both eyes open and I strongly believe we have more than enough to be a division 1 team for many a season to come. If this side was to go down then i’d see it as a massive failure on my part, despite the need to lower the age of the squad. This is 100% different to Napoli where we had no starting point and no assets. This club had players to trade and we’ve done that knowing the risk that comes with it. Yes the likes of Di Maria could of given us another 2 or 3 seasons rated in the 90s bracket, however it would of been harder to get a trade for a player likely to hit the 90s in the next few months. We are fairly comfortable in 8th in Division 1, which is where we were when I joined, so we’ve not suddenly nose dived. We are now going through a period of transition which is likely to last until the end of next season. However the season after we would be looking to be trying to push into the top 4, which on paper right now looks a tough ask, but i’m quietly confident we have the improvement in us”