Malaga: The Financially Troubled Club Defying The Odds
When I was approached about writing a piece on the quite extraordinary tale of Malaga’s season thus far, I had no qualms at all. It is an immensely pleasing story and one which many other clubs could learn a great deal from.
Before this season began, the club was in turmoil. Their owner and benefactor Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani had basically washed his hands off them. They owed significant sums of money to the Spanish tax men, could not pay their staff or players and had been forced to sell Santi Cazorla, arguably their best player, to Arsenal for a pittance just to raise some money. Many observers and fans expected the worst but in a modern football world littered with tragedy, the upturn in the club’s fortunes thus far have been nothing short of miraculous.
Despite suffering defeats in their last two games the club currently lie fifth in the Primera Division and look odds on to qualify for the next round of the Champions League. The side, coached by Manuel Pellegrini, have united as one and have produced a string of good results to set them up for an intriguing 2013. The departure of Cazorla, Mathijsen and Rondon to name but a few was expected to signal the beginning of the end for Malaga, but how wrong everyone was.
The club has not spent a Euro in the transfer market but has managed to conduct some effective business. In particular, the signing of Javier Saviola from Benfica on a free transfer has proved to be a very astute piece of work. The former Barcelona player never quite lived up to his billing in Spain first time around but eased into his Malaga career with goals in his opening few games.
However, possibly the two biggest influences thus far have been the return to prominence of Joaquin and the emergence of the young Isco. The former had played for Valencia for many years and been capped by Spain, but his consistency often detracted from his obvious potential. The current environment he has found himself in at Malaga has clearly awoken something burning inside that has really come to the fore in recent months.
What has taken everyone a little by surprise though is the form of their current superstar in the making, Isco. The 20-year-old has been in scintillating form this season and is already earning rave reviews in Spain and further afield. He is clearly a special player; fantastic technique, great movement and dazzling skill. The way in which he dribbles past opposing players is something very special and he has lit up La Rosaleda with his virtuoso performances.
It appears that the uncertainty surrounding the club’s future has galvanised and harnessed the team to produce something special this season. Although it is only mid November and there are many, many games to play until May, the hope and spirit they have displayed is something to marvel.
So often during recent times clubs who have fallen into financial troubles have wilted and folded but Malaga appear to be bucking this trend. The game is unfortunately riddled with clubs suffering from financial misadventure but Les Boquerones are proving once and for all that a club all pulling as one in the same direction can make a huge difference.
Malaga have been a huge positive this season and should be congratulated for what they have achieved.
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