La Recta Final: Sevilla and the Tightrope Between Success and Failure

We’ve arrived at the final stretch of the season, with four games left, and if not “everything” to play for, there’s certainly a lot on the table for Sevilla. As we approach the end of the season, I thought it’d be a good time to revisit the comments Del Nido made at this exact point in the first half of the season, before that rather unfortunate 2-6 drubbing we endured at home to Real Madrid. At the time, Del Nido was giving a speech for the Junta General de Accionistas, and he touched on various topics regarding the cub, offering many insights into how he runs the club, and why he makes some of the decisions he makes. The whole thing is worth a read, but I’ll just bring this quote over:

We close the sporting year 2010/2011 on the basis of what we can once again consider to be an economic, social, and sporting success. In broad numbers, for the ninth consecutive season the financial figures of the Administrative Counsel over which I preside show postive numbers in the most difficult season and environment in which we have directed the club. With a budget of close to 100 million euros, the unexpected elimination from the Champion League left us on the edge of the economic abyss, with expected losses in August 2010 of 30 million euros, which was the amount of money we’d expected to get from Champions or Champions and Europa League play.

Only the sales of Adriano…Konko, Zokora, Squillaci, Sergio Sánchez, and the last of the fees for Dani Alves and Marti, along with an improved TV contract…allowed us to close the financial year with a net gain of more than 400,000 euros. I can assure you that the majority of management’s efforts has been focused on recovering the economic loss of elimination from the Champions League. […] That was our obligation as managers for having taken on so much risk, and fortunately we have been able to do it.

He then makes a couple key points, including that (and I’m quoting the other post here) normally we operate with a budget that assumes income of 55-60 million euros. If we have a good year like in 08/09, with CL, we add 20-25 million euros. Europa adds 8-15 million, depending on how far we go. Further, he states that if we’re not in a European competition, the goal is to land between 5-10th place. Again, the whole article is worth reading, it’s a great reminder of who and what this club is, what our limits are, and where we’re trying to be.

It’s especially useful to remember all that at this point in the season when we could conceivably end up in CL spots or out of Europe entirely (ok, one end of that spectrum of results is more likely than the other), and in light of more recent comments from Del Nido that “with a budget of 90 million euros, not qualifying for Europe would be an enormous failure”. So on the one hand, we have to remember our limits and know that we can’t just expect to be in Champions every year. In that light it’s also worth underscoring that this year we’re playing with the gutted remains of last year’s team. Look at that list of sold players–when you add in Capel, that’s more than half of last year’s starting XI! But on the other hand, while we know we can’t expect glory every year, we have to know that given how we handled the monetary shortfall of not qualifying for CL last year, it seems like we also need to realize the very real consequences of not playing in Europe: we end up selling players. Good, quality players. (Also, we fire managers.)

This is, I suppose, the knife’s edge upon which this team lives its entire existence. Don’t ask for too much success because it’s unrealistic, but also know that almost any amount of (very plausible) failure has (very real) results. I think I started writing this post as a call for perspective, that maybe we wouldn’t make Europe, but after all we ARE going through a lot of rebuilding this year, but now that I’ve written it out, I’m coming to a different conclusion. I want to be able to say it’s ok to fall short of our goals, to have a season that’s not a success, but isn’t a full on failure, either. But I can’t–there’s no happy middle ground on the tightrope we’re walking. Because while it’s true that a disappointing season would be a somewhat foreseeable and totally understandable setback, it could also bring dire consequences.

On that note, as we head to the angry lions’ den of the Santiago Bernabeu…

Vamos mi Sevilla!!!