El Centrocampista



After four and a half months of waiting, Real Zaragoza’s long-suffering supporters finally got their second home win of the campaign yesterday afternoon, and only their fourth in 25 league games.

The previous weekend’s second half collapse at Malaga and the first 85 minutes of this encounter had seemed far more in keeping with what has generally been a nightmare season both on and off the pitch. However late goals from Luis Garcia and Abraham in a 2-1 victory over Villarreal ensured that those still in la Romareda went home happy for the first time in 2012. So where had all the other fans gone by then?

Those who have followed the struggles of ‘los maños’ this season will be aware that the vast majority of their supporters would very much like to see the back of owner Agapito Iglesias, who they blame for financial mismanagement on a grand scale which threatens the very existence of the club.

For a number of weeks the action group ‘Salvemos el Real Zaragoza’ has orchestrated an ‘agapitada’ in the 32nd minute of the first half of each home and away game, which involves loud whistling from all those opposed to Iglesias’ continued involvement with the club. The significance of the minute chosen for the protest is that Real Zaragoza was formed in 1932.

This weekend the group’s leaders decided to up the stakes, delivering a symbolic package to the club to be passed on to the owner. It contained a ticket for the match (Iglesias has stayed away from La Romareda since before Christmas), two whistles (one blue, one white to match the club’s colours) so that he could join in the ‘agapitada’, and a letter inviting him to act like the true supporter which he has always claimed to be and join them in their protests.

However much more significant was the decision to designate the clash with the Yellow Submarine as the first to feature an ‘agapirada’, in which SRZ called on all supporters to walk out in the 32nd minute of the second half. Television pictures suggest that many did indeed follow this course of action, although already a number of media outlets have chosen to criticise the supporters’ action, with one presenter on Marca TV labelling it ‘lamentable’.

It is fair to say that the issue has certainly found some opposition even amongst the most diehard of Zaragoza fans, and given the way events unfolded yesterday, there will no doubt be some feeling that they were right to stay in their seats until the end. It remains to be seen whether the ‘agapirada’ will be repeated at the next home game in a fortnight, when local rivals Osasuna are the visitors.

Despite the joy of a rare success, it would take a brave man to be bet against Manolo Jimenez’s charges starting next season in the Segunda Division. Zaragoza remain nine points from safety with just thirteen games remaining, and in truth they were second best against Villarreal for long periods, with the visitors paying the price for missing several excellent opportunities to double their lead.

That they failed to do so was in no small part due to another inspired performance from ‘keeper Roberto, who in dire circumstances has emerged as a shining light between the posts for the basement club. Meanwhile the object of the fans’ fury still shows no signs of budging.

This week Radio Marca’s Valeriano Jarne has been reporting that sources close to Iglesias are indicating that he has no intention of walking away even if the club are relegated. With an estimated 20 million euros from the league and television companies coming his way regardless in August, and a season’s grace being afforded to clubs in terms of their debts if they are relegated, this apparent reluctance should not come as a great surprise.

However if he does stay put, the supporters’ last hope is that Iglesias has in some way already committed enough indiscretions for a court to force him to stand down. A failure to pay local amateur club Amistad the 285,00 euro sell on fee which they are owed from the transfer of Ander Herrera to Athletic Bilbao, whilst still finding the money to buy himself some land from the proceeds, should really be enough in itself for him to be shown the door. Unfortunately as things stand, the chances of it happening still seem quite a long way off.


  1. FCB1899

    5 March, 2012 at 12:48

    I can’t see Zaragoza getting anywhere near safety as they’re still 9 points behind Villarreal but it will make things interesting if they do get a couple more wins.

    At this stage I think the bottom 3 will be the teams that stay there and go down at the end of the season.

  2. Liam Bambridge

    5 March, 2012 at 21:06

    I would tend to agree with that. I think the honeymoon period for Racing’s unique managerial set up is well and truly over, and although the early signs for Gijon under Clemente are promising, I think like Zaragoza they have too much to do to get out of it. You never know though, the likes of Getafe, Betis and Mallorca have hardly set the world alight in the last few weeks, so a couple of wins for any of the bottom three and they might start to feel the heat.

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