Monday, June 25, 2007

the Spanish league season wrap-up: awards

I was debating between silly and serious for these, and ended up with a combination of both. So...enjoy?

the Fernando Martin award for most embarrassing club president

So many nominees to choose from. There's Joan '7 trophies! No, 6 is alright too. Umm...5. 3? please?' Laporta of Barcelona, who has had an exceptionally stupid year in terms of decision-making. There's Ramon 'Guti is an eternal promise' Calderon of Real Madrid, whose inability to censor himself either in speech or in action has infuriated and entertained both Madridistas and the league at large. Then there's Sevilla's del Nido, who exceeds the both of them in the capacity for offensive verbal diarrhea and brings along extra hints of sleaziness with his entanglement in corruption allegations.

I think Laporta edges this one for how silly he now looks, the team having won exactly 2 (and pretty much the least important 2) of those 7 trophies.

the Second Choice Steve award for underachievement

Who else but Atletico Madrid. How much money did they spend at the beginning of this season? Like coach Javier Aguirre - who I happen to admire very much - said, they spent 30 weeks in the UEFA Cup places and ended up 7th in the table. (But then, Barca spent how many weeks top of the table? Just goes to show that relative consistency in those terms counts for nothing.) Atletico are a big club with a large, long-suffering fanbase who spend a lot of money on players but seem to get little return. Which really does suck.

the Claudio Ranieri award for most disastrous tactical experiment

Barcelona's brief dalliance with 3-4-3. Great for the Dream Team, not so great when the form of Barca's starting back three made it seem more like 1-4-3. The worst exhibition of its failings was probably El Clasico in the Camp Nou.

the Istabul award for greatest comeback

In terms of individual matches, Getafe's 4-0 destruction of Barcelona in the Copa del Rey semifinal after trailing 5-2 from the first leg is hard to beat. League-wise, Real's last-gasp comeback victories over Recreativo, Espanyol and the draw at Zaragoza, not to mention the last day victory over Mallorca all come to mind.

In terms of the season, I suppose the obvious choice is Real Madrid. Strangely, though, if you look at the results, the second half of their season is no better than the first half. So the term comeback is a bit inappropriate. For me, this award goes to Villarreal, who pulled themselves together in the second half of the season and went on a fantastic winning streak which lifted them back into European competition. Brilliant stuff.

goal of the season

Yeah, I'm going for the obvious, despite its inconsequential nature in the end. Because I never get sick of watching it. Because countless hours have been spent by people all over the world watching it over and over again. And if you're like me, it never fails to put a smile on your face.

Copa del Rey semifinal first leg: Barca v Getafe, 2-0. Lionel Messi, take a bow.

match of the season

Now, I don't get to watch as many matches as I would like, so feel free to disagree completely. For my money, it was definitely the aftementioned El Gran Clasico at the Camp Nou (3-3) - a match which was instrumental in the title heading to Madrid. It had everything - brilliant attacking moves, terrible defending, red cards, six goals, drama from the beginning to the very end and some massive protagonists in Ruud van Nistelrooy, Guti and young Leo Messi. Now that's entertaining football.

player of the season

This is going to a Real player, because somehow it seems appropriate. But it could have gone to one of Sevilla's finest, too, say the brilliant Dani Alves or the resurgent Freddie Kanoute.

For all that's been written about David Beckham, and bless him for his fine work, decisive goals win titles. Step forward, Ruud van Nistelrooy. The best money Real have spent in a long time, and he's far from finished. All hail this season's pichichi.

coach of the season

Difficult one, this. There's Bernard Schuster, who has done a remarkable job at Getafe yet again despite his tiny budget and guided the team into Europe next season. There's Juando Ramos of Sevilla, who I admire very much both for his ability and for the grace he always displays when talking to the press. But having come in under so much pressure, taken so much flak, and still managed to whip the player power mad Galactico machine into some sort of fighting shape (a task many thought to be impossible), this award really has to go to Fabio Capello.

I still fail to be impressed by his brand of football or his slightly scary personal politics, but what he did is some achievement. Points also for refreshing candor.

team of the season

Some part of me feels like this should really go to Real, for their spirit and determination and of course the big trophy they're taking home.

People say that this season, we've had a mediocre league. And maybe they're right. But if there's one team who have stood out amidst the mediocrity, both at home and abroad, it's surely FC Sevilla, winners of the UEFA Cup (2006 and 2007) and the Copa del Rey. They've done a lot to spread the idea that Spanish football is about more than just the Real-Barca duopoly, much like Depor and Valencia have done in the past, and will hopefully continue to do so. On top of all that, they've done it all on a relatively small budget, using quite a few home-grown players, and playing attractive football.


Gonzalo said...


I cannot fault you on your choices for the recipients of the awards, except for one: most embarrassing club president. You're way out on this one. Perhaps the disappointment over the way Barça literally threw away the league championship, or the ignominious way Getafe was allowed to claw their way back into that Copa del Rey semifinal has clouded your judgement. Laporta was perhaps guilty of hubris at the beginning of the season, but that is common enough among Spanish football club presidents. And he had more reason than any to crow, given the way his team had dominated the Spanish league for three years and conquered Europe once again.

Of the three presidents you mention, Laporta is a distant third. Del Nido is just way too funny to be embarrassing. It's hard to know how much he believes what he says or whether it's just a way to get the level of attention from the media usually reserved for the 'big two'. And, to be fair, Sevilla have had a tremendous season and fully deserve their team of the year award.

No, without question, the most embarrassing president has to be Ramón Calderón. I've blogged on his motormouth tendencies extensively, so, at the risk of blowing my own trumpet, you can find a few choice articles from the past season here, here, and here.

'Nuff said.

pdp_risingson said...

Linda, in the past 2 weeks, you have been a blogging MACHINE.

I can hardly keep up.

Coincidentally, I've recently experienced some astoundingly petty people in the blogging world, so I can completely understand your sentiments regarding that idiot. Believe me, I'm on your side when it comes to people like that.

It amazes me how little people care for well thought out articles.

That being said, and since it is coincidentally our inaugural year as bloggers, I would like to commend you on such a wonderful blog. In fact, your blog is the reason I started mine. I can't tell you how amazed I was when I stumbled onto your blog and discovered that someone who WASN'T Argentinian could know so much about the albicelestes and have so much passion for them.

So I joined simply for the fact that it would enable me to make comments on your blog! After that I thought, hey why don't I do this too?

So congratulations are in order, for giving both your knowledge and passion; of which you have in abundance, and two things I think the world needs more of.

I kind of feel like the guy at the party who nobody knows, but is too drunk to care, and insists on giving a speech. lol

linda said...

Gonzalo: I've definitely followed the adventures of Calderon on your blog this season and derived much amusement from them, so you're probably right there. I guess my thinking was that at least he won a big trophy in his first season, so he gets some leeway. Plus, I've been twitchy about Laporta's ridiculous antics (the infamous airport incident comes to mind) for some time now and only held off because we were, as you say, winning things.

pdp_risingson: I've been on holiday fron university, and there's been so much going on, hence the flood of posts.

I can't tell you how much I appreciate your comment. The blog started out as a way for me to share my thoughts with anyone who might care to read them (since in New Zealand there's hardly anyone I can discuss football with anyway), and the conversations I've had with people all around the world through it have been astonishing and wonderful. So thank you very much indeed!