Of all the teams in Spain, Deportivo still hold a little place close to my heart.
From their Leicester-like rise in the late nineties to clinch the La Liga title for the first and only time in the 99/00 season (same season Atletico were relegated), the club have fallen down the ranks in recent years and now occupy the Spanish Segunda Division B.
The Riazor was a fortress at one point, just over 32,000 fans packing it to the rafters on scorching Spanish nights to see Los Blanquiazules do their thing.
Roy Makaay, Diego Tristán, Bebeto, Djalminha, Donato, Mauro Silvo, Sergio, Valerón. Iconic names and fierce goalscorers in the nineties and early noughties.
But life in the Second Division B1? Surely that can’t last forever.
That’s my intention here anyway, so let’s see what we can do with Deportivo.
Best of intentions
That may, or may not, be the team that takes us out of the Second Division B – that at least being my intention and surely the board’s ambition.
Having played a 4-2-3-1 with Leicester for the last few months (though starting to vary things now in the Premier League), I’m curious to see if my approach with the Foxes can adapt to life in Spain.
If not, the plan is a 4-3-3 wide setup, a DMC in front of the back four, get a solid DLP and BBM in the middle with two pacey wingers and a solid goalscorer up top.
The board have a few things on their mind, starting with hitting up the youth option as money is tight around the Riazor so there’s a leaning towards U23 signings.
Wage budgets have to come in to play and with my contract costing a staggering four grand a week, the wallet will also be tight. By the end of the season we need to win the league, then work on repairing the club’s financial damage.
After that, it’s building towards getting out of the second division entirely but it’s looking like I’ve got four years to do that much.
A late start
While we’re used to seeing life in England start fairly early, those languishing in the Spanish Second Division B1 (I’m Group A) don’t really have to get out of bed until 18 October.
I’ve opted for an August start, giving me four friendlies and a testimonial to carry me through mid-September to mid-October.
Despite winning the Segunda Dvision as recently as 2012, finishing runners up again two seasons later, the best the’ve been able to manage in the Segunda Division B was as runners-up in 1981. It’s time to restore some glory to Deportivo.
To do that, we’ve got to get through the group stage, playoff/promotion stage.
We’ve got 18 games between October and February, at which stage teams placed 1-3rd in the group hit the promotion stage, with 4-6 going into a playoff. But with five groups of 20-odd teams each, that’s a hundred teams vying for a promotion place. Those promotion games get underway in March, leading to the play-offs with the top two teams promoted to the Segunda Division.
Sure, Deportivo are favourites, looking to bounce back from the humiliation of relegation at the end of the 19/20 season, but nothing is written in stone. In the real world, Deportivo sniffing around the playoff spots as Celta Vigo B, Unionistas and Zamora currently lead the way. Home form is on their side but with two wins from nine on the road, there’s work to do away from home.
Given the top placed prediction, it’s not surprising to see a few blue dots knocking around the media dream eleven. As squad rules go, there may be changes.
For this season, I’ve got a squad size cap of 22 – it’s currently 16. 14 of those are outfield players, with a limit of 20 and when it comes to over-23 players, the max is sixteen, with 12 currently part of the squad. That means that youth, or at least young players, are definitely going to be a factor here.
We’ve got €11m in the bank, €1.7m of a transfer budget and a wage budget of €134k – of which we’re about €500 over. Adios fat cats.
There’s six of the squad over 30, including Alex Bergantinos who gets a testimonial ahead of the season opener.
It may be a case of reducing the transfer budget and upping the wage budget to work a few loan moves into the squad if I can convince a few heads to take a season out in the lower-tiers of Spanish football.
But with good weather, guaranteed crowds and life on the continent, what’s not to love.
We’ve got 69 days to go to the start of the season so let’s see what happens.