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The Rayo aficionado - with Edyta (1st August, 2017)

Follow Edyta on Twitter here.

A bit about yourself and your background

I’m from Poland, born and raised in Cracow and a Rayo fan since the 2012-13 season. I'm an active commentator of Rayo in social networks, and also a fan of Spanish football, Spanish language, and the culture of Spanish-speaking countries. I’m an IT graduate but my passion is journalism. I’ve been cooperating with and, occasionally I have a column in Rayo Total. I’ve just been accepted at the Spanish Philology department.

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

I’ve been supporting Rayo since the 2012-13 season. It was the first season of Paco Jémez as Rayo’s coach, and finished with the historical eighth place in the ranking, which would have advanced us to Europe had we been given the licence. I was impressed by the team’s ultra offensive style of play, but most of all I was amazed by how combative they were, especially in a game they lost at Camp Nou when, while losing 5 or 6 to zero, Rayo did all they could to score this one goal with Barça. It’s a great story of a team who despite being in dire straits, captivated Spanish people. It also captivated me, a neutral fan of Spanish football up to that point, who didn’t even know the language. I learnt it a few months later.

Describe your first visit ever to Vallecas and the stadium? How would you describe the fans in the stadium, and how intimidating is the stadium for opposition fans and players?

I haven’t had the opportunity to go to Spain yet, but my biggest dream is to see Madrid and cheer for Rayo at the Estadio De Vallecas. The atmosphere during Rayo’s games at home is incredible, and the support for the team makes an unbelievable impression on Rayo’s rivals and gives Rayo’s players confidence. They believe they can do anything then, I think. Unconditional support, even in the worst of times, from the fans who, as opposed to some other Spanish teams’ fans, do not hoot at the team when they are losing or leave the stadium before the game has ended – that is what being a real fan is about. There have been many moments when a reaction of Rayo’s fans or the support they showed for the team touched me personally, like when the team was relegated to Segunda or two seasons earlier, in the extra time of a game lost to Villarreal the whole stadium sang “te quiero Rayo”.

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

As regards Rayo’s style of play, for the past few years they were definitely associated with the joyful football, so characteristic for all the teams led by Paco Jémez. Rayo’s current coach, Míchel, is of a similar mindset, which is not surprising since he considers Paco his mentor. And the current players who also were part of the team when Jémez was the coach, seem to like this style of play – offensive, with high possession of the ball – the most, and any attempts to go away from this philosophy had really bad results. Being Rayo’s fan, in my opinion, means supporting the team for better or worse, and identifying with the values the team represents. We expect Rayo’s players to be engaged and committed to the team they should proudly represent. They don’t have to be the masters of football but they have to do their best.

How would you describe the last few seasons for Rayo fans?

Mood swings. In those 5 years in Primera, which have been the longest in a row the team has ever survived without being relegated to Segunda, we have experienced many important things, both good and bad. Rayo was close to bankruptcy and then to the European cup games. After “Tamudazo” and keeping Rayo’s position in the division in the extra time of the last game of the season, Sandoval was replaced by Jémez and Rayo had their greatest season in their history. The following season was devastating to some point, and when everybody thought Rayo’s relegation was inevitable, a fantastic series of rematches let Rayo keep their position a few rounds before the season was over. The next season almost brought the European cup games yet again. The person who, in my opinion, should take the credit for Rayo’s successes at that time was the team’s sports director, Felipe Miñambres. Unfortunately, in the following season he was unsuccessful in acquiring proper replacement for the key players who had left Rayo. The new players who joined the team mostly did not contribute as much to team as the ones acquired by Miñambres in previous years, which resulted in a desperate fight to keep the position without happy ending. On top of that, Rayo’s relegation to Segunda happened in controversial circumstances, when several football teams were supposedly not playing by the universally accepted rules.

After the relegation, we were hoping the team would get back to Primera but poor management and wrong personal decisions combined with bad transfer policy led to the team being close to the tragedy from 2004, when a year after relegation to Segunda they dropped to Segunda B. Fortunately, the team reacted positively to Michel taking over as a coach and in the last moment they started to get results good enough for the team to keep their position.

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?

I think the first team should include more outstanding players and the reserve and youth players should be given conditions good enough for them to stay in the team. Unfortunately, in recent years cantera has been neglected by the club which resulted in many talented players leaving the team. I think the starkest example was Juvenil A in 2015. From a team which earned two trophies in a single year, throughout the two years nearly all the players have left the team. That’s why I am so happy about Fran Beltrán’s career who at 18 became the pillar of the first team. He is an exception but I hope there will be more of such cases. I prefer a youth player who identifies with the team and the club to a well-known and talented player who is totally disengaged.

List some things you appreciate and some things you can’t stand about the club management. Rant away :)

I think the club has been managed poorly in all possible aspects, that’s why I fully support the initiative of Accionistas ADRV. First of all, the president Raúl Martín Presa’s attitude to fans has been less than acceptable. He disregards them and the example here might be the issue with the passes for away games or the match in Valladolid when the club organized their own trip to the game to compete against the one organized a few weeks before by the fan clubs union Plataforma ADRV. The stadium is not only in ruins and doesn’t meet the safety requirements but it hasn’t even been properly maintained for all these years. I’m waiting to see if the rumors about the reconstruction of the stadium will turn out to be true. What is more, I am concerned about the lack of transparency regarding the club’s finances, like when a substantial sum of money was placed on Fundación Rayo Vallecano’s account (covering the assets?) or when the money was unsuccessfully invested in Rayo OKC and the course of the assembly of the stakeholders should better be left without comment.
I am also concerned with the reductions among the staff of the club, cost-cutting in the cantera and women’s team and the transfer policy right after the drop – when we were in Primera, the results covered the ineptitude of Presa. As regards marketing and communication, we’re also far behind other clubs, even those on a similar performance or financial level. Poor marketing campaigns do not draw new fans to the club, and I think it would be a great idea to attract even neutral people so that they come to the game and feel the amazing atmosphere rather than watch local rivals’ games. I believe a lot could be done in this case with a minimal financial investment, which has been proved by CD Leganés, or the clubs from the lower divisions. The club’s ineptness led also to the closing of the official radio transmitting the games of the first team and the reserve, which has greatly affected following the club live, especially the pre-season friendly matches. On a positive note, I appreciate the decision to hire people involved with the club, like Míchel, Cobeño, and Cembranos, and the presence of historic emblems on the second and third set of suits for the upcoming season. I don’t know to what extent this decision is an honest act of respect towards the fans or just another attempt at avoiding fuelling the conflict with the fans.

What are your thoughts on the Bukaneros? How would you describe them and their political affiliations? How would you characterize the board's support to them?

You can agree with Bukaneros’s political views or not, but you cannot deny their love for Rayo or their small hometown – Vallecas, or the fact that they are consistent in their beliefs and values. The atmosphere they create is one of a kind. It’s enough to recall how much their support was missed during the strike in the first half of the 2015-16 season. I don’t like the way they are treated by the club’s authorities or by the media who depict them as criminals like when they protested against acquiring Roman Zozulya. For other radical supporters media tend to be far less critical, especially when they are of a right-wing mindset.

Now, for some fun:
Any favorite Rayo song/chant?

“No queremos ver”
No queremos ver,
cómo hundes al Rayo,
escucha al aficionado,
¡Presa márchate!

Do you belong to a particular penya? If so, which one?

Unfortunately not, but if I lived in Spain, I would sign up for one.

How important is it for you that Rayo wins versus Rayo plays well?

Of course, the results achieved by the team are of prime importance, but it was the style of Rayo’s play led by Jémez at that time that amazed me and made me sympathize with the team. I don’t like anti-football and the so-called parking the bus. I like when my team plays nice football but you shouldn’t value the style over the results. It’s better to adjust the style to players’ unique capabilities so that they’re reflected in the team’s results. Besides, as long as Jémez had the team that was suited to his favourite ultra-offensive style of play he had good results and poor transfers in 2015-16 season brought relegation.

Best signing Rayo has made? Worst signing Rayo has made?

Best transfer to Rayo – Michu, signed for free in 2011 from Celta, fifth best shooter in a single Rayo’s season in Primera, best Rayo’s player in 2011-12 season and one of Tamudazo’s heroes. One can say that if it hadn’t been for Michu, Rayo could have disappeared from the European football map. His goals helped the club maintain the position in Primera when relegation would mean bankruptcy. Moreover, he was sold to Swansea for 2.5 million euros at a moment when Rayo needed all the money they could get to survive.

Worst transfer to Rayo – hard to say, there have been numerous cases of transfers of players who, according to the coach’s decision, were not given a chance to fully present their skills and they might have been valuable assets to the team. I wouldn’t like to criticize the players who were 100% dedicated to the game but they lacked skills. If I had to name one person here, I would mention Miku, but not because he is a poor footballer – he can play, it’s his attitude I cannot stand.

Favorite player? Favorite manager?

If I were to choose among those related to Rayo, I would hesitate between Toño, Fran Beltrán, and Saúl Ñíguez becuase of their skills and commitment. The best manager is, without a shadow of a doubt, Míchel: for his courage while undertaking a monstrous challenge of keeping the team in Segunda after being a coach for only a half a season, for succeeding when it was so close to failure in winter, and for identifying with the club and all his achievements for Rayo way back when he was one of its players.

What is your favorite thing about Rayo, and why?

The supporters, definitely. It’s not only about the amazing atmosphere during the matches, but also about the numerous initiatives like when they were collecting money for the fans who were fined because of the protests against the club’s authorities, or when they were protesting against the violence against women, or racism, or evictions. They were also collecting toys for the children. They are people who exhibit solidarity and the feeling of unity, having one passion – Rayo.

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

First of all, there is too little information about Rayo in mainstream media in Spain and even if the club is mentioned, it is usually in rather insignificant places. What is more, the club is often depicted negatively, especially if the media talk about Bukaneros. I would like the media to talk more about Rayo and see more positive things in the team.

Which websites/newspapers/people do you get your Rayo information from?

I get most information from the media related to Rayo, like Unión Rayo, Rayo Total, Matagigantes.NET, or Pasión Por El Rayo. Also, from social networks (tweets from the journalists and well-informed fans) and the Internet forum Planeta Rayista.

Your thoughts on the season ahead?

Although Míchels’s achievements have filled me with hope, I wouldn’t like to jinx the future. The season is long and I wouldn’t like to speculate about potential promotion. We’ll see how the team will be doing but I hope Míchel’s cooperation with Cobeño will be fruitful.

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

I would like to send my warmest regards to all Rayo’s fans inside and outside of Spain!


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