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Hinchas y Jugadores - Rayo Vallecano with Paul Reidy (18th May, 2017)

Follow Paul Reidy on Twitter here and on Instagram here.

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

I discovered Rayo on my first ever trip to Madrid in 1993 and was introduced to the club by a friend living in the capital at that time. He mentioned the idiosyncrasy of the club, the neighborhood and the
political aspect that surrounds the club. I went to my first game the following season and remember being pleasantly surprised by the warmth of the fans who were somewhat bemused to see a foreign supporter make the journey to Vallekas, as at that point in time the club had close to zero in terms of international profile. On regular trips to Madrid I would also ensure that the weekend flight worked around Rayo home fixtures.

I later moved to Madrid in 2003 and one of the first tasks upon arriving in Madrid was securing a Rayo season ticket. My arrival coincided with relegation from the top flight and another subsequent relation to 2B. I attend most home games now and also try and take in some away matches.

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

No, far from it... With the club retaining the bulk of the squad from last season (and having the highest wage bill in the second tier) the view among fans and observers was that Rayo would bounce back at the first time of asking. Sadly, things didn't go to plan and at one point we were rock bottom of the second and it seemed more likely another relegation was on the cards rather than the original dream of promotion. José Ramón Sandoval and Rubén Baraja both coached the side with poor results and not until Rayo legend Míchel's appointment have the team responded. A season we all want to end as soon as possible and start to plan the following campaign.

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

I'd argue that goalkeeper Gazzaniga has been one of the best acquisitions, with the keeper growing as the season has unfolded. Recent performances (UCAM Murcia and Girona away games, in particular) have seen him almost singlehandedly secure two vital wins for the club.

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

The weaknesses have been easier to identify rather than the strengths.... The main issue was the assumption from the bulk of the squad that an immediate return to too flight football would be a stroll and that we'd waltz back to LaLiga without having to break a sweat. Obviously that has certainly not been the case and the second tier of the Spanish game is a more dogged affair with less flair and a need for a solid work ethic. At too many points, certainly in the first part of the campaign , too many players looked like they just weren't bothered and internal skirmishes between players certainly were no help in creating a solid team spirit.

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

There are so many, I could be genuinely be here all night.....Oklahoma OKC, Rayo Femenino, Youth system, Los 17, Fan arrests, Disengagement with own fans, state of the stadium, lying about match attendance, bandwagoneering on Rayo's social values, abject social media platforms (only club in Spanish top 2 flights with no Facebook profile), refusing to listen to the fans....

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

Frustration is probably the definitive word to describe our feeling this year. We've seen how a squad that has all the attributions as talented individuals failed to gel as a collective in the quest for a first time return to the top flight with a questionable attitude being displayed on far too many occasion.

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

The two who stand out are undoubtedly Fran Beltrán and I'd also add Pablo Clavería. Both players have been used in the first team this season with Beltrán defying his youth, stepped up to the plate and securing a regular place in the starting XI with some fine midfield displays. The 18 year old player has just had a contract extension to fend off would be suitors which will see him wear "La Franja" through to 2020.

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

We need an out and out goalscorer ...maybe Ángel Rodríguez from Zaragoza or the likes of Miguel Linares from Oviedo....

Finally, predicted finish for Rayo?

We've looked accomplished under Míchel and should have enough in the tank to have a last 2/3 fixtures without having to look over our shoulder.

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