It’s job done for our first season; we’ve secured automatic promotion to La Liga through winning the Secunda Division (second division of Spanish football).
The pivotal moment came away at Lugo in February in what was a goliath 2nd v 1st showdown. We came away with a season-defining 0-2 win to put us twelve points clear with sixteen games remaining. Having secured a playoff spot with just five games remaining it was a case of holding our nerve. An emphatic 3-0 win over Mallorca sealed the title in front of a bumper home crowd with three games to spare. 16 year old Málaga born academy graduate, Santiago, made his debut and played fairly well, which was a nice bonus. He, and a few others, had the chance to shine during those few remaining games that wrapped up a very successful season. It’s a record points tally in a season for Málaga too with 90 points accumulated.
Lugo and Las Palmas will be joining us in La Liga.
- Average attendance: 26,383 (91% full)
- Total players used: 29 (highest in second division)
On the same day that we secured an automatic promotion spot, Málaga B avoided relegation, on what was the final day of their season. A dramatic Jack Harper penalty secured their place in the Second Division B4.
|5th||Las Palmas (P)||42||20||9||13||63||46||17||69|
We’ve stayed true to the tiki-taka style all season, only using alternative tactics in much needed scenarios, e.g. seeing out a 1-0 lead for the last five minutes of a game. Our league stats make for pleasant reading: just 4 defeats, 31 clean sheets, 8 of our 14 draws were 0-0 and possession has regularly surpassed 60%. The vast majority of goals scored have been placed shots in the area with the vast majority of assists coming from short passes, mainly through the middle.
It’s not all about possession though, I’m looking for possession with intent, hence the positive mentality stance with our tactic. Creating clear cut chances is our preference and we’ve done well in terms of converting those chances: the last 40 league games saw us convert all 19 of our clear cut chances. With some added quality we can hopefully increase that number of opportunities, whilst keeping a high conversion rate. We’ll be facing far superior opposition next season though, so that won’t be easy.
It wouldn’t be right to go without a tip of the cap to our number one, Cenk Gönen (Segunda Division Goalkeeper of the Year). With a lot of help from the defense of course, the Turkish stopper’s had a memorable season with a staggering 25 clean sheets from 36 league games. Our young second choice keeper, Kellyan, tops that up with another 6 clean sheets from 6 games; taking our league total up to 31.
Dani Pacheco had his shooting boots on and was fairly consistent throughout the season. 19 goals from 37 starts is a great return, especially given that we’ve played him in an unfamiliar role as a lone striker. Having been very inconsistant during the first half of the season (probably due to all of the transfer interest), Álex Mula pulled his socks up for the second half and contributed 12 really important goals, many of those deciding games.
Inside forward, Javi Ontiveros’ form has been a little underwhelming. 6.88 isn’t the worst average rating, but with only 3 goals and 2 assists there’s definite room for improvement for an offensive player. He’s still young and developing though.
- Segunda Division Goalkeeper of the Year: Cenk Gönen (25 clean sheets from 36 games)
- Fans Player of the Season: David Lombán (7.34, 15 PoMs)
- Young Player of the Season: Álex Mula (7.10)
- Top Scorer: Dani Pacheco (19)
- Most Assists: Adrián González (7)
- Signing of the Season: Francis (£180K)
- Best Pass Completion: Alfred N’Diaye (94%)
Looking to Next Season
Avoiding relegation isn’t enough. We’ll be aiming high and targeting a mid table position. I’ve spoken with the players and their on-board with that too.
The big dilemma is whether we can realistically continue the tika-taka style as a newly promoted team. Can we continue to dominate possession in a superior league? It’s a tough one to call but I’ve decided to fully commit to it. We’ll need to strengthen, perhaps increase the quality of passers in the team, to help us step things up. A few tactical tweaks may be needed, depending on new players brought in and to reflect the quality of opposition, but the basic principles will remain.
The Málaga B team is much strengthened this season with plenty of youthful talents in the mix. Those players aren’t ready for the A team but will benefit greatly from a season of competitive first team football. I can’t imagine they’ll be fighting a relegation battle for a second successive season. It’d be great if they could gain promotion, that would give my youngsters an even better platform to develop and hopefully push for a place in the A team. I’ll be keeping a close eye on their form.
To give us a better idea of where we sit pre-season, I’ve arranged fixtures against other La Liga outfits such as Athletic Bilbao, Espanyol and Barcelona. It should provide a good indication of how competitive we can be, and allow me to tweak the system as I bed new players in.
We pre-arranged quite a few signings towards the end of last season, which can be seen on the previous post: One Nil to the Boquerones. We’ve topped up our quality further still, with these additional pre-season acquisitions:
|Borja Mayoral||22||Spanish||Striker||2 year loan||Optional future fee: £32M|
|Martin Ødegaard||20||Norwegian||Inside forward||2 year loan||Optional future fee: £7.5M|
|Mouctar Diakhaby||22||French||Ball playing defender||£2.5M||Jorge||22||Spanish||Central defender||£1.2M|
We’ve signed a lot of players in total. Quite a few are for the future, and have either gone out on loan or been moved to the Málaga B team.
The two year loan deal for Borja Mayoral is a pretty big coup for us. He’s got the ability to make a really big difference in front of goal. He’ll likely share the lone striker responsibility with last season’s top scorer, Dani Pacheco, but I should be able to use Dani in his preferred inside forward role on occasion too. A front three of Mayoral, Pacheco and Mula looks an exciting prospect for the season ahead.
Diakhaby looks to have all the qualities to make a fine half back as well as a defender, so I’ll likely retrain him. We’re also boosted by the return of Argentinian box to box midfielder, Emanuel Cecchini, who was out on loan last season. He’ll be part of the first team setup.