So here we are. The last international lull of the season allows for a short pause from the relentless run of games, and gives us all a chance to catch our collective breath to take stock of the current situation on and off the field. *breathes out*
Games have seemed to come at us thick and fast lately, and downs have been just as frequent as ups in the process. It has often been hard to assimilate how we feel about our team and our coach, as was all too evident just last week when we were world beaters one day against Manchester United, only to fail away at lowly Leganes what felt like only a few hours later.
So, before we get back for the final push for league and cup success, let’s take some time to reflect, starting by taking a closer look at our record since Montella took over from Berizzo in the New Year.
The jury was out from the beginning for our Italian coach, and despite reaching the quarters of the Champions League and the final of the Copa del Rey, that same jury is still out. There is a general feeling among Sevillistas that this relationship wasn’t built to last, and an 18 month contract probably confirms those suspicions.
Montella recently and openly said he would take the Italian national job if offered it. He is one of the leading candidates after Chelsea’s Antonio Conte, and if he does decide to leave it would not be as devastating as it was losing Jorge Sampaoli to Argentina.
Here are his stats after 20 matches.
The incredible cup form, shows on paper at least that we have the potential to translate to the league if we really need to. Take the cups out of the equation and his record looks very poor, lower to mid-table sackable form even! Could it just be a case that too many cup games have burned us out, and the league has taken a back seat in the players’ minds? The teams around us have had no such distractions and can focus fully on the league. Or does it show a deeper issue at play? We have always been a good cup team, so is our success in the cups this season down more to the club mentality rather than anything special from our coaching team?
Whatever the case, his overall record from 20 matches is mediocre, punctuated by some fantastic and unexpected cup wins, and some horrendous and embarrassing thrashings. The Sevilla derby maybe came a bit too soon to judge Montella on, but Eibar and Atletico Madrid also put 5+ past us, and if we continue the way we have been in the league it would not be a surprise if the next derby coming up sees another 5 goals in Sergio Rico’s net. Betis supporters must be licking their lips in anticipation of playing us.
Worrying times indeed domestically, and a potential season out of Europe altogether looms, which really wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen to us. We have had the odd season out of Europe before and it only served as an opportunity to rebuild without distractions. 2018/19 could well be that type of season for us.
Top 4 was always going to be a stretch from the start with Valencia flying out of the blocks and then Villareal finding their shooting boots, but the final nail in the coffin for our Champions League qualification came with the defeat at home to Valencia which put us 11 points adrift.
The defeat away to Leganes last weekend just added insult to injury, and now we are looking over our shoulder again with Betis and Girona breathing down our necks. Girona are on a great run of form, and alongside Betis are the guaranteed entertainers for the neutral. Attack first, defend later is the order of the day for both these teams, and sometimes it works spectacularly. Our slow but steady season has failed to get the juices flowing, but should we keep our noses in front of our rivals that won’t really matter for now.
Despite arriving with much fanfare, our new signings in January have been underwhelming to say the least. Layun is the only one who is getting playing time but that is probably down to our right full back injury crisis. I am not sure if Montella was behind these signings (almost certain he wasn’t), and he clearly doesn’t feel these players are adding anything to his already settled starting XI. Roque Mesa has done nothing with the limited chances he has had, and Sandro looks lost, and although he tries hard when he comes off the bench I am not sure he will ever be a regular starter for us.
Any starting XI for any team needs rotated from time to time though, otherwise regular players get worn out, and the fringe players need to feel they have a chance of getting in to the first team otherwise they’ll most likely become despondent. Ben Yedder might be thinking of looking for a new club if he continues to play second fiddle to Muriel, who after a great start to life under Montella has lost his scoring touch, and confidence along with it, it would seem.
As for summer transfers in, there is a fear that players will not wan’t to come to us if we are not in Europe next season, but I am not sure this would be the case. We are still a top European Club and will be able to attract a high calibre of player.
Overall, there is a mixed feeling going into the final run of games… one of excitement of playing in the quarter finals of the Champions League, and another shot at a trophy, albeit against firm favorites Barcelona. And another feeling of trepidation that our domestic league campaign is close to coming off the rails completely.
One thing is for sure, that whatever happens we will always be there…
Looking forward to reading your comments below
¡dicen que nunca se rinde!
¡VAMOS MI SEVILLA!