Karl Marx, Erich Honecker, Brian Clough and Carol Smilie. Clearly it's time for the IBWM La Liga update. At the pulpit, it can only be Tim Hill.
Speaking like a 1960’s GDR leader, Gregorio Manzano praised Sevilla’s “collective efforts”, who managed to “be on sight for the ultimate goal of winning.” He then proceeded to talk about “belief in certain ideas” and how there must be “work ahead, both long and varied.” If this writer was a Sevilla player, I would be thumbing through the history books to see where such overtly left-wing phrases have been uttered before, and examining the outcomes of such speeches. I’d then probably be left with a worrying expression and looking for a ticket out of the country ASAP.
These words were after his team had removed the veil of footballing unconsciousness and swotted a poor and weak-willed Atletico team 3-1 at home, unifying player power and collective footballing theory to overpower the players from ‘bourgeois’ Spanish capital.
It’s funny, Erich Honecker, once leader of East Germany for the latter years, proclaimed in front of a crowd in Berlin, “Always forwards, never backwards!” This sort of talk would not be out of place in Gregorio Manzano’s post-match interview. For any Americans reading this, hold onto your tightest of McCarthyism hats, this devilish communism talk is still going in Europe!
This is the Gregorio Manzano who has a degree in psychology, practices hypnosis and has the facial expressions that you’d find in the most friendly of father-in-laws. Last season, when managing Mallorca, the side who missed a Champions League place because of financial issues, he, against the backdrop of angry players, in-house fighting and ridiculous financial mismanagement, somehow turned Mallorca into a competitive side.
Akin to Brian Clough, Senor Manzano has built a reputation on man-management and motivational skills. It’s this reputation that has led him to the Sevilla job. Make no mistake, Sevilla have a good team, it’s just the fact that they don’t know they have a good squad. Manzano is built for a club like Sevilla, who only years ago were competing competitively in Europe and winning European UEFA Cup Finals. He’s seen as a unifier of dressing rooms, capable of removing any changing-room politics (I’m not talking politics between Carol Smilie and Nick Knowles here), and best of all, getting his players to actually play football.
Years ago, with a batty 19-year old Samuel Eto’o in accompaniment, Manzano masterminded a 5-1 victory at the Santiago Bernabéu, a most noteworthy triumph. The win was not down to tactics nor Fernando Hierro’s limited pace (although, this did not help) but more down to the fact that Manzano, at-half time, hypnotised his Mallorca team – telling them how they would win this game.
Quoting from the greatest of the Iron Curtain leaders, building up team spirit and collective strength seems to be his strategy this time around. This use of archetypal communist utterings unifies his team and should propel his Sevilla team forward this season. This writer just hopes that we get to hear a story of him using some half-time hocus-pocus this season and in a Marshall Sylver-like fashion, transform this sometimes dismal, run-down, beat-down team into the happy-go-lucky, in your face team that we know Sevilla was previously.
As Karl Marx once said, “Manzano is the riddle of Sevilla solved, and it knows itself to be this solution.”
Away from the poignant interests of Senor Manzano, there were actually some interesting results in La Liga.
It’s always big news when Barcelona fail to win at home, but it’s not surprising news to hear that they were without Xavi. His replacement, Mascherano again looked dawdley on the ball, always taking a few too many touches. His inclusion in the squad is like when someone brings their younger brother down to the park to play with your friends, slowing down play and making everyone nervy when he has the ball – you know how it is. You don’t want to explicitly say anything to the poor kid, but God, it is a pain having to carry a player around with you. It’s a similar feeling with poor Javier.
What is more of a pain is having to watch Mallorca’s attacking midfielder Emilio Nsue score the equalising goal in the Camp Nou, not because he equalised against the often infallible Barcelona side, but because we got a close up of his wretched barnet. He’d never make it in England with such hair, I’m sure of that.
That’s right, you heard right, Real Madrid doubled their goals scored in the season so far in one game. In the ninety minutes against a dismal Deportivo side, Cristiano Ronaldo doubled his questionable tally for the season, while showing a lot better attitude on the pitch than he had done in the previous games. All you need to do to keep the needy, whiny, attention-seeking grease-ball happy is to let him score after four minutes. Yeah, you heard me La Liga, let him score!
Valencia continued their title-topping form with an impressive win against an ordinary Athletic Bilbao side. Roberto Soldado combined with ex-Mallorca man Aritz Aduriz, with the latter scoring the goal. Their relationship has the possibility to blossom this season, as they look very in-tune with one another up-front. God, I wish Barcelona or Real Madrid were top already, it’s so boring having Valencia and Villarreal topping the tables.
Real Madrid 6 – Deportivo La Coruna 1
Barcelona 1 – Mallorca 1
Almeria 1 – Malaga 1
Getafe 3 – Hercules 0
Osasusa 1 – Levante 1
Sevilla 3 – Atletico Madrid 1
Villarreal 2 - Santander 0
Valencia 2 – Athletic Bilbao 1
Real Sociedad 1 – Espanyol 0
Zaragoza 2 – Gijon 2
Nilmar, Villarreal- 5 goals
Giuseppe Rossi, Villarreal – 4 goals
Aritz Aduriz, Valencia – 3 goals
Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid – 3 goals
Diego Forlan, Atletico Madrid -3 goals
David Trezeguet, Hercules – 3 goals
Tim writes regularly for IBWM but if you would like to read more from him, please visit his very fine blog.