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La perspectiva de Girona - with Adam Selby (23rd November, 2017)

Adam Selby owns @GironaUK, a Twitter page dedicated to, you guessed it, Girona. Do follow the page, and while you're at it, Adam himself - @ASelbyInfo.

A bit about yourself and your background

As a page, @GironaUK are a fairly new, incredibly fresh and extremely enthusiastic page that was established shortly after the end of the 2016/17 season. Whilst our priority is to of course document Girona’s rise and performance in La Liga this season, for us a greater priority is to help provide exposure to an ever growing English speaking audience with an interest in Spanish football. As one of the most interesting stories given Girona’s rise to prominence in recent months, we recognized the potential of helping give Girona a much greater digital footprint in the English language and as currently the only English language account for Girona across the internet (at least to our understanding) at this time of writing, we are incredibly proud to represent the club from a supporter’s perspective through a mixture of accurate and in-depth posts to a type of humor that draws upon everyday example and relevant, modern trends in popular culture which we believe will help the club grow to a much wider English speaking audience via social media.

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

As much as we wish that we could say we’ve been lifetime supporters of Girona and followed the club through thick and thin across the many different levels the club have played at during their eighty seven year history, we are fairly new to the fiesta and only really became supporters of the club in the last twelve months whilst living in Cataluña. Although we had always recognised Girona as one of Spain’s most vibrant and cultural cities, it was only in search of a local team to follow away from the usual status quo of FC Barcelona or RCD Espanyol whilst living in the region that turned my attention to Girona and it was quite remarkable watching the club finally realise their potential and reach the dizzy heights of La Liga. In a largely Catalan speaking part of the country, not only did discovering more about the club interest us but it was also a challenge which significantly helped language development and for that reason alone following Girona has been rewarding in more ways than one!

Describe your first experience of watching Girona play? And what does it mean to be a fan of the club or a player of the club?

Spanish football is quite different to the type of football we’ve become accustomed to growing up in the UK with matches in the Spanish second tier in many ways much more difficult to catch on television back home. Nevertheless upon moving to the region albeit some way from the Montilivi itself, it was on a rare occasion that a documentary featuring Girona and their second division competitors was on television before a Girona game itself and it was from such basic beginnings where I remember watching Girona play. Whilst the score and admittedly the team’s performance did not then stand out anywhere near as much as the club’s results so far this season, one thing that did shine through the bright lights of the television screen from the first moment was the pride, perseverance and passion of the Girona supporters and just what it meant to see their side perform on the pitch. You need only look at the togetherness amongst the Girona players in photos and posts on social media to see this reciprocated throughout all levels at the club – foundations which not only highlight just how strong of a unit the club is away from the pitch with little signs of instability even in recent weeks given the City Football Group’s increased involvement in the club but more strikingly, also on the pitch too. Although others may differ, to me I have always sensed that pulling on the Girona shirt for supporters and players alike means a great deal, representing both a team in the shadow of their neighbors Barcelona and a region proud of expressing their voice on a much wider scale.

To an outsider - how would you describe Girona's playing style?

As a keen follower of both English and Spanish football at all levels from semi professional and non-league sides to those teams competing in the UEFA Champions League in the upper echelons of European Football, it’s safe to say that in our honest opinion that we have never witnessed a side quite as unique as Girona. With incredibly humble beginnings, it was only through the club’s hard-work, determination and incredible energy levels that Girona achieved the unthinkable and joined the big boys in the Spanish top flight. Although such qualities are often attributed to like minded sides that bridge the gap and earn promotion to first division in leagues across Europe however, Girona have not only maintained such qualities in their start to life in La Liga but more importantly built on these to a degree which stand the club in incredibly good stead for the future. Girona on the pitch are exciting to watch, forward-thinking and attack minded but with a real solidity in defensive positions. With options through the middle and out wide, Girona will of course face different challenges this season against much more athletic, perhaps fitter and more technically gifted sides but matching these like for like is not out of Girona’s capabilities as shown in their season opener with Atlético Madrid. As a fan it can be frustrating yet breathtaking in equal measure.

Describe the importance and significance of a game against a rival? What do you think would be the key differences between a Girona fan and a fan of those clubs?

Well who doesn’t love a derby day? Local rivalries can bring the best out of a club and its supporters and in extreme circumstances; sadly it can also lead to the worse. Local derbies have a unique pulling power of bringing an extended community much closer together through the love of football. Tribalism is one thing but comfortably following your team, confidently wearing your individual club colours and proudly representing your club are most certainly another. For Girona who have only recently earned their first ever promotion to La Liga in an eighty seven year history, if Girona fans are anything like us at @GironaUK, they’ll more than likely be licking their lips at the thought of the upcoming regional derby with neighbours FC Barcelona. Long-standing and much more experienced followers of the club than ourselves may well remember the days in which the club was confined to playing local rivals at a much lower level in regional leagues within Cataluña, therefore the opportunity for Girona to go toe to toe with FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol in a professional, competitive La Liga game is an exciting prospect not just for Girona supporters but for their regional rivals too we suspect.

There was a time when Girona weren't even in the Segunda. However, it has since "consolidated" itself in the Segunda, and even reached La Liga this season. How would you describe the last few seasons for Girona fans?

A craftsman is only as good as his tools and under the wisdom, experience and guidance of Pablo Machín, Girona were able last season to finally consolidate their position in La Liga after a series of near misses in recent seasons prior to their eventual promotion last season. Girona and its supporters it could be said may well have become so accustomed to life in the lower leagues that when their eventual promotion did come last year, it almost felt like a dream. For what was once an impossible reality, unthinkable concept and truly unbelievable notion that Girona had the power to not only reach but then compete with the likes of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid on a weekly basis, Girona have further consolidated as a club throughout the summer through a number of shrewd business decisions on and off the pitch – improving infrastructure in terms of playing staff and management to crucial improvements around the stadium and surrounding areas to put them in line with their fellow La Liga clubs. Additionally once again, their partnership nowadays with the City Football Group brings great potential for the club to further consolidate their position as a La Liga club with more than just top flight survival now a real possibility at the club.

What is your opinion on the utilization of the youth teams? How would you rate the opportunities that youth players get in the first team?

Spain has a great, recent history on utilizing youth players to help establish a strong La Liga and replenish a high quality national team, year upon year. Thankfully, Girona is no different and you need only look at Girona’s twitter feed during days where the first time are out of action and attention often turns to the success of Girona’s youth teams from children representing the club up to Girona’s B team C.F. Peralada otherwise known as Girona B. Girona have built their current starting XI on players that have come from Segunda with the likes of Aday Benítez and Pere Pons prime examples of young players that have made it through the youth setup to prosper in the first team. Nowadays Girona are reaping the rewards of a successful, strong structure from the youth ranks upwards and if anything, young players will only get further opportunities in the future – take young keeper Bono for example who is keeping the experienced Gorka Iraizoz out of the team at the moment.

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

The one thing I truly admire about Pablo Machín and his management at Girona is that even in the face of criticism and potential scrutiny if things don’t go right, Machín’s stubbornness has actually paid off in sticking to a tried and tested starting XI that has proved successful both in the Segunda and now Primera division. Yet in spite of his stubbornness and changes behind the scenes with the club’s ownership, Machín and his fellow staff deserve praise for having the open-mindedness to go out into the transfer market last Summer and spend wisely on players that fully understand the ethos and identity of Girona – often at top flight quality as displayed through the free scoring Christian Stuani and solid defensive pairing of Bernardo and Marc Muniesa. One slight criticism… Douglas Luiz could bring a lot to the team and should be played more in my opinion. Although everybody has their own opinion, Machín’s however must be trusted, even if the UK football publication FourFourTwo did rank Luiz as the seventh best prospect in the world.

What is the most famous ultra group at Girona? How would you describe them and their political affiliations? What is the feeling of fans of Girona and of other clubs towards them? How would you characterize the Girona board's support to them?

I think politics and football should be kept separate on the pitch with supporters free to express how they may feel away from it. In what has been a testing year for the region of Cataluña, the club’s fans must receive praise for remaining honest yet respectful a matter of days after votes over the region’s potential split from Spain and consequent fixture against Real Madrid that weekend. Just as the power of democracy allows everybody to have their own opinion on key matters, the strength of football and fans’ passion for the game ultimately means that similarly, everybody with a passion for the game and a love of a certain team will therefore have their own thoughts and opinions on a team. Besides all a club can ask for of their fans is for them to be respectful, enthusiastic and passionate about the good of the club and Girona supporters from my experience liaising with them on Twitter and in person during some limited time living in Spain have been all of these things and much, much more – a wonderful group of supporters who are loving every minute of being in La Liga and rightly so.

How would you contrast the "Girona fan experience" under the current board?

I would say Girona’s fan experience at present is incredibly positive. Long term supporters are experiencing a brand of football and quality on the pitch that they most likely haven’t seen ever before with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Antoine Griezmann gracing Montilivi already this season and Girona still coming out on top with four points achieved against the two Madrid clubs this season. Recent promotion to La Liga has not only brought greater public awareness to the club but has instead attracted a wider global audience from all corners of the world with @GironaUK very much catering as the only English source of news and fan interaction in the English Language. The Girona fan experience has therefore modernised in our opinion since twelve months ago and will only go from strength to strength in the upcoming months, years and decades.

Is there something that the media doesn't (or maybe doesn't want to) talk about Girona that you think is worth mentioning?

If anything I would say there are a number of unsung heroes that perhaps don’t get the credit they deserve with many people turning to the likes of Pablo Maffeo and Christian Stuani who in the media’s view at least have been the club’s biggest performers. Whilst Maffeo and Stuani have clearly been two of Girona’s best players this season, the individual quality of Aday Benítez, Pere Pons and Álex Granell to name just three have not been mentioned and often goes unnoticed and I do think that if there are scouts watching Girona on a weekly basis, I would not be surprised to see any of the three players linked with moves away to clubs competing at the top of the league in the future.

Your thoughts on the season so far?

In one word: Fantastic. In two words: Absolutely brilliant. In three words: Beyond our expectations. In four words: Girona are staying up. In five words: Girona 2-1 Real Madrid… you get the picture. Over on twitter we’ve probably run out of superlatives to describe just how impressed we have been with Girona’s performances this season. Not only have Girona stunned the viewing public with fantastic results against some of the league’s biggest clubs most notably beating Real Madrid, drawing with Atlético Madrid and narrowly missing out on a victory over Sevilla after missing a last minute penalty, Girona have been able to dig in and grind out results against clubs who many would see as their equals or even superiors. Girona’s work-rate in each game has been second to none, their tenacity, their determination and enthusiasm has been to key to the club’s success and if they can maintain these high levels of performance then they are bound to stay up – fingers crossed!

Anything I haven't covered and you'd like me to put in?

We would like to again highlight that @GironaUK are the only English Language page promoting Girona (at least to our knowledge) then we would be incredibly grateful. We are more than happy for fans of any club to follow us and we specialize on match-day coverage with themed live-tweeting every single week and gif’s galore! Come and join the fun! We also RT all articles written by aspiring journalists if young writers wish to write about Girona and receive coverage from our following of English Language speakers on Twitter. Finally we are always happy to answer questions, interviews and even write articles on Girona for your website – just follow us and send us a message or tweet. We respond to every request!


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