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La perspectiva de Almería - with James Dodd (22nd July, 2017)

You can follow James on Twitter here. If only because, as he says, "I'm now living in Sydney and I can guarantee that I am probably the only Almería fan that is living here!"

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

I started supporting Almería roughly five years ago as I have visited the area every year for over ten years as my family have a holiday home in the area and I decided to get behind the local club. I've always had an interest in Spanish football but I never really felt any real attachment to a club until I started learning about the club. My main team is Arsenal but wanted to follow a team in Spain that I had an association with and could take a keen interest in and that team was Almería.

Describe your first experience of watching Almería play?

Whilst Almería were enjoying their first season in La Liga I was able to watch them from the UK as they were often on TV when they played the big teams. It was always a roller coaster ride watching them but I actually persuaded a few of my friends to watch their games with me as well! The first game that I watched at the Estadio de los Juegos Mediterráneos was a friendly game against Córdoba that finished in a draw. It was an amazing experience to get to see Los Rojiblancos play in the evening sun and everybody at the ground, from the fans to the club, were welcoming and supportive.

To an outsider - how would you describe Almería's playing style, what it means to be a fan of the club, and what it means to be a player of the club?

To me, Almería's style of play has always been to play good attractive football! However, this can sometimes come at the cost of defending so the team are always sure to give you an exciting experience when watching them! Almería are a proud club that aim to play players from the academy or those from Andalusia which is a very admirable stance although in recent times it has been difficult to do this, especially when the club have been selling their best players and need instant replacements.

Describe the importance and significance of a game against a rival Andalusian club (such as Poli Ejido) - what do you think would be the key differences between an Almería and a fan of another
club?

There are a few teams that are close by to Almería in Andalusia like Málaga, Granada and Córdoba etc but one of the more fierce derbies was with Poli Ejido. However, due to the fact that Poli now cease to exist that derby has now ended which is at the detriment to the supporters.

There was a time when Almería was a mid table La Liga side. However, they are now struggling in the Segunda, even surviving on the final day in 2016. How would you describe the last few seasons for Almería fans?

Over the past four season Almería have really experienced some ups and downs and recently, and rather unfortunately, there have been more downs than ups. They did incredibly well to survive in their first season in La Liga after promotion and that season had some momentous occasions. My favorite moment from that 2013/2014 season was when Almería defeated Real Bets 3-2 in the final minute of injury time thanks to a headed goal by Ramon Azeez. The manager and club legend Francisco even sprinted down the touchline with the substitutes to celebrated with the players. For me, it was that goal that helped save the team that season. The following season they were relegated and then the two subsequent seasons they have struggled to survive in the Segunda. This could be due to a number of reasons but for me I think they signed the wrong players that were only interested in playing for the club because of the large salaries on offer and they didn't necessarily care about the poor performances they were putting in. Last season turned for Almería when they appointed Luis Miguel Ramis. He's a fantastic coach that was due an opportunity at a club like Almería and it's great to see that he has been given the chance to build something this season with the help of the club legend Corona who has who has been appointed as the Sporting Director. Ramis did so well last season because he knew what was needed for the club at the time and he knew how to get the best out of the players that he had at his disposal, especially the younger players like Joaquín and Pozo.

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

Like most clubs, when the team aren't performing or hitting the targets set for them, the fans will often criticize the board and this is no different at Almería. The fans were unhappy last season with Alfonso Garcia because they stuck with the manager and club legend Fernando Soriano, despite the continuation of poor results and Soriano was seen by the club's fans as being bullet proof. It's a shame how things ended with Soriano as he is a true club legend and perhaps didn't deserve the stick and criticism he was receiving at the time when the team were performing badly but it was that decision by Alfonso García and the subsequent appointment of Ramis that helped turn things around so he deserves credit for that. I think the main gripe that the supporters have with the board has been the constant hiring and firing of managers over the past four seasons and they are frustrated that it's taken so long to get it right with the appointment of Ramis and had they not had temporary success over the last two season then the club would almost certainly been playing in the Segunda B and then it would be very difficult for them to recover from that.

Your thoughts on the season ahead?

The transfer policy has been very mixed over the past few seasons as the club has brought in some very good players like Quique, Fidel, Morcillo and Ximo Navarro and of course every club makes signings but there has been a high turnover of players each summer which has made it very difficult to find any form of continuity. This season they have sold Quique to Osasuna for 1.5m euros and have also lost Ximo Navarro to Las Palmas and Ramon Azeez along with a few others but have recruited well with the likes of Mandi and Pablo Caballero so I hope that with Luis Miguel Ramis at the helm and the support of Iván Andrés, Corona and Alfonso García then they can have a good preseason. Following the disappointments of the past two seasons, the aim for the coming season has to be to achieve a mid table finish and look to challenge for the playoffs. As teams like Girona and Leganés have proven in the past few seasons, if you can build a strong team and get a good team spirit then anything is possible in the Segunda Division however Almería have also shown what can happen if you don't have value those things so they must learn from their mistakes of signing players who don't care about what it means to play for the club. Either way, supporting Almería is always eventful and I am sure the 2017-18 will be no different!




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