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Showing posts from February, 2017

On Raúl Baena (28th February, 2017)

Yes, Getafe just won 1-0 against Rayo, but because Raúl Baena was injured (soleus rupture in the right leg, 4-6 weeks out), I thought it was worth talking about a player who is unsung but hugely important nevertheless.

If Espanyol fans came up a with a list of players who have one-uped Barcelona, Raúl Baena would be high on that list. Born in Málaga and raised at the club with the same name, he was signed by Barcelona at the age of 14, and went on to progress through the youth ranks. However, at the age of 18, he was picked up by Espanyol, which led to a legal battle as Barcelona sued Baena for 3.5 million euros.

And yes, that meant it was Laporta vs Baena, which meant Felipe Izquierdo, Baena's lawyer, could accuse Laporta of "knowing nothing of the matter" and that his presence in Barcelona was only "to make protocolic travels". And Laporta could look at Baena and sarcastically say, "good luck, lad". Also, its interesting to point out that this was …

Presa, Marca and a hero named Casanova (24th February, 2017)

Raúl Martín Presa just confirmed that the 17 fans, who Tebas had filed criminal complaints against (yes, this is the Zozulya case), will be expelled if found in the stadium. Nice work.

Also, Marca, being typically and idiosyncratically Marca, released a dossier entitled Tracing Míchel's Rayo with "predictions" and interviews. The gist? Míchel worked under Paco, so Míchel's Rayo will play like Paco's Rayo.

Finally, we must applaud courage when it is displayed. And today it was displayed by a Casanova - Gerard Nus Casanova. The assistant technical director for Rayo is also the assistant manager of the Ghana national football team, and because none of the technical staff (bar manager Avram Grant) have been paid even though AFCON finished weeks ago, he is refusing to leave Accra until everyone gets paid.

"Like any human being, when you do work you want to get paid - I don't think there's anything strange in that. I'm just going to wait here until th…

A new manager (23rd February, 2017)

Miguel Ángel Sánchez Muñoz, aka Míchel, is the new manager of Rayo. The fact that he started training the squad on Tuesday, the day he was appointed, is kind of amazing.

It's do or die.

Here's the thing - when Míchel retired in 2012, he was tasked with bringing an attacking identity to the youth ranks and making it consistent with the first team - and he's done that really well. He was the Juvenil A manager before this and his latest result (last weekend that is) was a 1-1 draw with Real Madrid.

He's definitely a good manager - but the times are too desperate and there is more than just the one precedent of 2003-04. In March 1997 Rayo were in La Liga and desperately needed a manager to save them, and appointed a former Rayo youth graduate, player, and manager Máximo Hernández. His second stint ended with relegation.

Fun fact: Máximo Hernández's first stint as manager was in 1983, when he led Rayo to one of their worst starts ever in the Segunda, and he was replaced…

This is one of those seasons (21st February, 2017)

Rubén Baraja has been sacked. Surprise.

This has insane parallels to the 2003-04 season, where Rayo were relegated from La Liga the season before and ended up being relegated again. Then, and now, Rayo were in 16th place after 26 games, but then it was 31 points compared to 28 now.

Then, Julen Lopetegui (sacked 2nd November), Jorge D'Alessandro (sacked 15th February) and Txetxu Rojo were unable to save Rayo from a second successive relegation.

Now, José Ramón Sandoval (sacked 6th November), Rubén Baraja (sacked 20th February) and whoever comes in now (rumoured to be Rayo legend Míchel) might be unable to save Rayo from the same fate. All signs point in that direction though...

It's funny how history seems to repeat itself.

In other news, a bit of politics - Alberto Garzón, the leader of Izquierda Unida (United Left, a coalition of left-wing political parties), came to Vallekas to show support for the 10 fans who are being shoved with criminal complaints by Tebas due to what h…

The story of Raúl Tamudo (20th February, 2017)

Rayo losing to Mirandés (for whom this was the first away win of the season) is obviously horrible - so today's post is completely different. It's about happy times.
I wrote a post on Raúl Tamudo way back in September 2015 (a few months after he had retired). It was my first ever article and I am still very proud of it. (Read it here).
However, it was slightly incomplete - there were more aspects of his career that could have been detailed, and he has given interviews since which are very interesting and worth documenting.
Therefore, I expanded it - I published the rewritten version today on my other blog (here) and on BarcaBlaugranes.com (here).
On the 16th February, 2017, I said: "....On some days, I'll probably just link to a post I wrote somewhere else...."
This is one of those days.

The beginning of Rayo's glory days (19th December, 2017)

Spanish football is always criticized for being a two horse race. That is a blanket statement - it doesn't capture the competitiveness of the Segunda, the fiery relegation and European spot battles of La Liga, the shocking frequency at which clubs in the lower leagues disappear. But there is one, and only one, context in which I believe that statement - and it's not the one you expect.

The 2007-08 season of women's football was dominated by two teams - Rayo Vallecano and Levante. Before then, Levante had always come in the top 3 since 2000; they had won four league titles and six Copa de la Reina's. In contrast, Rayo Vallecano had only started existing since 2000 and had never been in the top 3, and had reached the semifinal stage in each of the previous three Copa de la Reina's.

It wasn't even close - Levante were flying in the league table, and Rayo were not far behind. But it wasn't just the fact that Rayo were posing a serious challege and running away…

A bit of transfer news over the winter, plus other news (18th February, 2017)

Rayo Vallecano did have that whole debacle with Roman Zozulya, and they did sign Toni Dovale from Leganés, Tomás Mejías from Middlesbrough, and Jordi Gómez from Wigan, but there were other transfers made that went under-the-radar.
Both are Columbian and both are 19 - Edward Bolaños and Wilmar Arango are their names. They've played in the under-15 and under-17 Columbian national teams, and have played together for six years. 
In other news, Rubén Baraja's position at the club is looking uncertain - rumours say that the game against Mirandés could be his last if he doesn't pick up points. Ironically, Mirandés are already on their third coach...but Javier Duelo of Unión Rayo correctly points out that while Baraja's decisions have been controversial, such as dropping heavyweights in the team, the fans know that the dreadful situation of the club has deeper roots than the coach or the playing staff and that just 12 games have passed. 
Unfortunately, he has picked up just t…

On Vallekas (17th February, 2017)

This is in light of  Pablo Iglesias winning 89% of the vote to become the secretary-general of the Podemos party. 

A quick lesson on Spanish political lesson - there are two major parties. The conservative center-right People's Party (Partido Popular or PP) and the center-left Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (Partido Socialista Obrero Español or PSOE). There are regional parties that also play an important role, but let's just focus on the first two.

After the 15-M movement (15th May, 2011), which was an anti-austerity movement which shook Spain to its very core, two more parties came to prominence. One was a left-wing, anti-austerity, populist party called Podemos led by Pablo Iglesias, a professor; the other was a centrist party called Citizens (Ciudadanos), a Catalan party that opposes Catalan nationalism and is led by Albert Rivera.

The December 2015 national elections ended the two-party system - PP, PSOE, Podemos and C's got 123, 90, 69 and 40 seats respectively…

Welcome to The Pride of Vallekas! (16th February, 2017)

On September the 21st, 2015, I posted an article on BackPageFootball entitled Rayo Vallecano – The minnows defying the script. (Read it here). Ever since then, Rayo have been relegated, are currently in a relegation battle, just sent back a player they had loaned within a day, and for some dumb reason Raúl Martín Presa is still in charge.

I want to write about Rayo. I want to write about its history, its famous players and its struggles. I want to write about the football and the board, the politics and the fans, the players and the coaches. But more importantly, I want to give my take on the day-to-day coverage.

So, starting today, I have decided that I will write about Rayo everyday. This is the first blog post. And this is the whole blog post. It took me days to just write this.

On some days, I will write as much as this post. On some days, I'll probably just link to a post I wrote somewhere else. On some days, I won't write at all. But bear with me - I'll try my very …