El Centrocampista

THE ANDALUSIAN REVIVAL – Bringing Sevilla back to life

By Olly Dawes

The product life cycle is well known in the business world, through the stages of creation, growth, maturity and decline, before a revival takes place.

This is often applied to football clubs, and never has it been more apt than in the case of Sevilla – a team hoping to come out of decline.

Since retaining the UEFA Cup in 2006 and 2007, Sevilla have struggled to emulate that success. It was a seemingly domino-like effect at the club, with the first knock being made when full back Antonio Puerta suffered a series of cardiac arrests on the opening day of the 2007-08 season. Puerta unfortunately passed away on August 28th, at the tender age of 22, bringing the club to a halt in a similar fashion to Jarque at Espanyol.

The departure of manager Juande Ramos to Spurs in October 2007 served as another huge dent to Sevilla’s hopes of breaking into the top 4 in La Liga, as he had led Los Rojiblancosto a UEFA Cup double, the UEFA Super Cup, The Copa Del Rey and the Spanish Super Cup in just two years. Then Sevilla Atletico manager Manolo Jimenez led the side to a 5th place finish, only marginally missing out on Champions League qualifcation to Atletico Madrid, on goal difference.

New coach Marcelino seems content in his new surroundings

Since then, Sevilla  have earned the tag of being a selling club. Brazilians Julio Baptista and Dani Alves enjoyed great success at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan before moving on to the league’s big boys, Real Madrid and Barcelona, respectively. They have also lost Christian Poulsen to Juventus, Seydou Keita and Adriano to Barcelona, Sebastien Squillaci to Arsenal, Luis Fabiano to Sao Paulo and inspirational captain Javi Navarro to retirement since the UEFA Cup success.

Their replacements haven’t stepped up to the mark either, with players such as the Ivorian trio of Romaric, Arouna Kone and Didier Zokora playing well below par, whilst Russian striker Alexander Kerzhakov came and went without making an impact.

The revival started in the second half of the 2010/11 season, as Gregorio Manzano brought in young, hungry players like Gary Medel and Ivan Rakitic to try and liven up an average Sevilla side. They finished in 5th place, a remarkable rise from midtable mediocrity up to Round 19. Manzano was still fired however, proving an unpopular coach with the fans. His replacement was Santander manager Marcelino Garcia Toral, a somewhat underwhelming appointment given the links with Luis Enrique, Joaquin Caparros and Luis Garcia.

He is overseeing one of the biggest changes of strategy at Sevilla for years. Their tactic for years was to bring talented, young players from Brazil and mould them into top quality players – see the likes of Baptista, Alves, Adriano and Fabiano for proof of this, making huge profit in the process.

However, there is a shift. Sevilla are now looking to the European markets, mainly because the economic boom in Brazil makes their players too costly. The influx has started with Rakitic, whilst the influential if sometimes inconsistent winger Piotr Trochowski has signed on a free from Hamburg, along with experienced Bosnian centre half Emir Spahic from Montpellier.

The acquisition of Rayo Vallecano full back Coke Andujar will hopefully be one to fill the void left by Alves three years ago, as it’s recent incumbents have been major disappointments – Marius Stankevicius, Abdoulay Konko, Mouhamadou Dabo and Sergio Sanchez never grasped the position and made it their own, though Martin Caceres did impress last season.

There are other positions that have question marks too – the goalkeeping slot could be up for grabs, as Palop had an uncharacteristically poor season by his standards, later being dislodged by long term second choice Javi Varas.

And as the most theatric player in La Liga, Diego Capel, moves across the border to Portugal with Sporting Lisbon, one of Marcelino’s favourites from Santander appears to be on his way to the Pizjuan, in the shape of former Barca starlet Giovani Dos Santos.

With Alvaro Negredo blossoming as a top class target man, a promising young team and the return of local rivals Real Betis into La Liga, there will hopefully be plenty to look foward to for Sevilla this term.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: THE ANDALUSIAN REVIVAL – Bringing Sevilla back to life « Sublime Finish

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