El Centrocampista

‘Si se pudo!’ – Zaragoza escape relegation trapdoor, but future remains uncertain

‘Sí se pudo’. Zaragoza’s 2-0 win at Getafe on Sunday night was enough to guarantee La Liga survival thanks to a remarkable run of seven wins in their last ten games, although in truth their performance in the Coliseum was their worst in a number of weeks.

Indeed had Getafe substitute Dani Guiza had been able to made the most of a gilt edged opportunity when left completely unmarked in the area late on, the story might have had a very different ending. However the players have run themselves into the ground on numerous occasions in recent weeks, and their efforts have galvanised their supporters into action, with a huge travelling support turning up on the outskirts of Madrid to see the great escape completed.

Unfortunately despite this remarkable charge to top flight safety, one which has even outdone their late surge out of the relegation places at the end of last season, it seems that many neutrals would have preferred them to be heading for Segunda rather than Villarreal. The blame for this lies squarely at the feet of owner Agapito Iglesias, who has managed to accumulate large debts and made no attempt to pay them off. In stark contrast the Yellow Submarine are generally regarded as being a well run club from a financial perspective, and thus the sense is that a club who ‘cheated’ survived at the expense of one who played by the rules.

This is an understandable sentiment, even in a league where financial shenanigans are commonplace – the 40 million euros which Atlético de Madrid spent on Radamel Falcao, for example, should surely instead have been a down payment on the tens of millions which they owe to the Spanish taxman. However it does seem a shame that a coach and a set of players who were dead and buried back in February are receiving little credit from so many quarters for what has been a truly amazing turnaround.

Sadly the ‘maños’ supporters have had to swallow a large dose of reality within 48 hours of the final whistle in the Coliseum, with the news that key midfielder Angel Lafita will not be returning to La Romareda next season. The loss of one of their most emblematic players (Lafita was born in the Aragonese capital, and has spent most of his career with his home town club) had been expected, with his contract up this summer and a number of clubs interested, but the news that he will be a Getafe player from July onwards is nevertheless difficult to stomach.

With the squad already reduced by one and reports circulating that agent Jorge Mendes is in negotiations with La Liga bound Deportivo la Coruña about his client Helder Postiga, the majority of the fans are redoubling their efforts to try and persuade Iglesias to sell up and move on. However in reality there is little they can do in the face of his insistence that no one wants to buy the club, an allegation which is widely believed to be untrue, especially now that a minimum of eight years has been granted by the courts in which to pay off the debts. Instead they must hold their breath and hope that at the very least he can persuade Jimenez to stay, although one wonders why on earth the Andalucian would contemplate doing so, given that his stock has quite rightly risen considerably in recent months.

Should Jimenez be miraculously convinced by the ‘project’ which Iglesias outlines to him in negotiations expected to happen this week, there remains a hope that the 2012-13 season might yet be less tumultuous than the previous two campaigns have been. The likes of Edu Oriol, Franco Zuculini and Abraham have all been impressive in the run-in, and loanees Pablo Alvarez, Apoño and Tomislav Dujmovic might well be persuaded to sign permanently if the right man remains in the hot seat. Others who have been little more than bit part players, namely Luis Garcia and Real Madrid youngster Juan Carlos, might also prove to be real assets with better pre season preparation over the summer than they enjoyed last year.

However there remain an awful lot of maybes in the equation, and little about which to feel confident as long as the man pulling the strings is a businessman from Soria who many feel has done little more than bleed the club dry since buying it in May, 2006. The saga that is Real Zaragoza SAD looks set to run for at least a little while yet, with no guarantee of a happy ending.

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