El Centrocampista



Last week Javier Clemente decided to take on the difficult challenge of saving Sporting de Gijón after the club endured a terrible run of results that has left them routed in the bottom three, six points from salvation.

The Basque coach certainly has a difficult job on his hands to improve the fortunes of the club from Asturias.

However, if Clemente is to stand any chance of retaining Sporting’s top flight status for next season, there are a number of key areas he may wish to focus on.

Clemente starts with C,  as in Clean Sheet

The former Spain national team coach is rather famous for his defensive approach, as he stated in his first press conference: “I don’t waste time playing beautiful. Beautiful to me is a victory”. Just like the last time he was in a situation like this (Valladolid 2010), Clemente will focus on earning clean sheets.

Even though he couldn’t avoid relegation in the eight matches he coached Valladolid, the team did earn four cleans sheets and only twice allowed more than one goal (against Atlético and Barcelona).

This time around Clemente arrives at a team with the worst defensive record in la liga, having conceded 43 goals already (in fact the only team that have crossed the 40 goal barrier). In addition, Sporting are also the team with fewest cleans sheets, as they have made only two all year.

Curious enough, last year when Sporting finished 11, they manage 14 clean sheets; the third best total in La Liga.

Last year Sporting only managed one win in a game that they didn’t keep a clean sheet. This time around however, they already have four victories while keeping clean sheets, but a draw and win in the two games they didn’t conceded a goal.

As the defence remains the same from last season, perhaps the only thing they need is the extra focus and motivation Clemente will bring.

Barral can’t do it all.

Team play is always important in football and when it comes down to Sporting you can tell how the lack of production from their playmakers have hurt this team. Not having Diego Castro hasn’t helped either.

Sporting live and die (mostly die) from the production of David Barral, who by week eleven, had already scored the same amount of goals as last season. However, following that impressive start, Barral has scored just two goals in 13 matches.

De Las Cuevas, Trejo, Novo (who recently left the team) and Andre Castro have scored just one more goal than Barral during the entire season.

If Clemente wants to turn things around he will need to get De Las Cuevas more involved during matches. The player has shot on target only eleven times this season, last year he had 24 shots on target.  Also Trejo will have to step up his effort as he has produce only one assist and two goals – far from the eight assists and nine goals he earned with Rayo in the segunda.

There is no place like home

A key part of avoiding relegation is to win your home games. Sporting have won 9, 7 and 8 games at home in their lasts three season in Primera, that is roughly half of their games at el Molinón. This time around Sporting have picked up just three wins in 11 matches. Not exactly  a case of ‘home sweet home’.

Apart from that, Barral has scored just two home goals all season and Sporting have only bagged 10 goals at home, failing to score during four separate matches.

Avoiding Second Division won’t be an easy task but if Sporting have any type of hope of doing so, they will have to be a marked improvement during their remaining 15 matches.

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