Newly promoted Espanyol go into the new season as relegation favourites in Division 1, after their play off success last season. There is no pressure on the spanish side with their stats some way below that of all their division 1 rivals.
Its been an intriguing 3.5 seasons at the helm for the manager. The team has achieved a 6th place finish in division 1, a European Trophy, and despite suffering a relegation in their free season, the club bounced straight back to claim promotion and another free season, and this was achieved 3 seasons ahead of target, with reaching the play offs only predicted at the end of season 22, with promotion likely only in season 23.
Twice in 3 seasons the manager has made the short list for the manager of the season, whilst his young side is starting to look very exciting for the future.
“Its fair to say we have arrived in Division 1, three seasons ahead of target and with that comes the downside of us being significantly lower rated than the rest. Being in division 1 will not change a single thing for us, we’ve been building the foundations for long term success and are pretty much there now in terms of the squad which will take us forward for many years to come.
We had only one option when I arrived, the squad was old, lacking any depth and ranked 14th in division 1. There was no chance we could just sit on players 34, 35, 36 years old, or we’d of dropped down through the divisions with little hope of a sustainable team for the future. Its took a lot of time and effort to go from a squad of no hope, to a squad of serious young talent who we take daily messages for from the bigger clubs to try and tempt us to sell. We won’t be doing that, we’ve set our stall out to be a team where the squad grows together so one day it becomes a serious top 4 side in division 1, and I believe time will show that those stars are already sat in Espanyol’s ranks to make that dream a reality.
We will once again enter the youth cup this season, with the knowledge that 8 of this teams youth cup best 11, will also qualify play in season 22’s and in many cases also season 23 and 24. We are also purring at the fact thet the likes of Fernandez, Ben Seghir, Guler, Gordon, Chaibi, and Simic are not even in consideration for the youth team yet, which demonstrates the strength of our young players, whilst showcasing the work we’ve put in over a sustainable amount of time to put our club very much on the list to keep an eye on as seasons progress.
Hidden deeper within those youth players are Turco, Christensen, El Arouch, Pedrola and Rankine, players who are quietly going under the radar but are expected to break out during 2023-24.
Whilst rebuilding the youth set up, we have also brought in some excellent young players into the first team, Ilic, Vieira, Garcia, Vivian Smith-Rowe, Almada, Stiller and Hickey will all play a significant part this season, whilst youth team strikers Broja, Elanga and Leonardo are all expected to play a large amount of first team games learning from the legend that is Ibrahimovic.
Although relegation is somewhat guaranteed, and if anything welcomed at this stage of our squad development we feel that a return to division 1 football for season 24 as a team who can then stay there is the long term plan. This squad is going to be allowed to grow, we have no need to sell anyone, whilst right now our only focus on recruitment is external youths who can be added to the squad. We plan to sign 5 of these over the season to take our squad back up to 50 in which we have a strong shortlist of players both on the database and also ones likely to be added.”