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Hinchas y Jugadores - Ponferradina with Juan Manuel Serrano (10th May, 2017)

Follow Juan on Twitter here.

How long have you been a fan of Ponferradina and what made you support them in the first place?

I've been following Ponferradina since I am 12-13 (now I am 26). What made me support Ponfe was proximity to my town. Even though Ponferrada (the city) is in another region, Castilla y León, as I live in the border between Galicia and Castilla, Ponferradina was my nearest football team apart from my local team that was in lower divisions at that time.

Given the transfer windows and the squad that was assembled at the start of the season, is Ponferradina where you want it to be?

Of course not. The goal this season was promotion, but knowing how is the promotion system from Segunda B to Segunda, that is quite difficult and everyone needs to be lucky in the playoffs. But being one of the biggest, if not the most, budget of all 80 teams in Segunda B, this team should be in the top 4 of Group 1 at least.

Of the signings made this season, which one worked out the best/had the most impact and why?

Menudo and Chavero were the best. They came from Segunda B group 4, Menudo from Cartagena and Chavero from UCAM Murcia. They were supposed to give as a good level and despite a settling in period, because going from group 4 to 1 is a big change, they did all right this season and I hope they stay for the next one.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of Ponferradina this season? Any standout players?

Strength. Player by player is the best team of Segunda B, with even some guys who had lots of minutes in Segunda last season and were important in their clubs, such as Núñez or Gonzalo in Albacete (also relegated). That also was the weakness. Having good individual players doesn't guarantee having the best team in the league, and the managers couldn't deal with all this quality players and struggled to make it work.  In addition, seems the team/managers/players couldn't manage the pressure of having to be the best contender for promotion and the pressure was 'in crescendo' throughout the season as the results weren't positive at all. For example...we were knocked out of the Cup by a Tercera side.

No standout players. There is noone that deserves to be mentioned as outstanding this season. In general it was disappointing because I had a big hype in most of them and in general their performances were below my expectations (Menudo and Chavero also were below but I think they can be good players in the near future for the club)

List some things you appreciate and some things you can’t stand about the club management. 

About the club management I think they did a great job. Ponferradina were in the best moment of the history for a few seasons, being in Segunda and even fighting too season to get into the top 6 and have the chance of going to Primera. Even though, realistically, for Ponferradina, being in Segunda, which means professional football, is a big achievement. Now that we are in Segunda B seems we are in the worst moment of the history but is not, as this club has grown a lot in the last decade.

Bad from them is the lack of patience with manager. This season we had 3 different and despite results are required, also continuity and time are needed for a project like this to be settled and being able to fight for promotion back to Segunda.

What has the mood among the fans been during the campaign? Do you generally agree/disagree with them?

The mood this season has been really pessimistic, mainly because the team didn't help. The games I could watch were a disaster and I understand the fans. But also, as I mentioned before, we must know the history of the team and being in Segunda is like a reward that I hope it happens again soon.

Are there any talented youngsters at the club that you expect to have a big future?

Adán Gurdiel was linked with Primera sides last season. He was usually an attacking midfielder or right winger but Manolo Díaz converted him to the right back. This season didn't do great and was injured often, but I hope he can be the star of the next project because he is also a local player and we've seen how players that were in the Academy left and are playing in a higher level now (eg. Valcarce's brothers at Numancia and Borja Valle at Deportivo on loan at Elche)

If you could make one realistic signing for Ponferradina this summer who would it be?

A realistic signing...good question. Ponferradina's policy is usually not spending money on a transfer and being in Segunda B I think that is obvious. But one player I would like to see with the blue and white kit is Joselu from Racing Ferrol. Great striker that rejected a couple of times offers from higher tiers to stay close to his family. Another option could be Rueda, a midfielder that is in his home Linares now in the group 4, but played for Ponferradina before and I think he could do a great job in Segunda B as a creative midfielder.

Finally, predicted finish for Ponferradina?

There are only 3 weeks left* and don't think we will be able to catch Pontevedra. It doesn't matter finishing 5th or 6th, but that position is needed to play the Cup next season. 7th could give the chance of being a cup team but it will depend if Valladolid B finishes better or not. Must be at least 6th but think that 5th will be our final position.

*At the time of interview.

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