Barcelona“I have said it clearly: we have very clear and obvious needs that are shared by the sports management and the club. There is less and less time left in this market, we need a push”. Diego Martínez has seen the wolf’s ears for months, the shortcomings of Chen Yansheng’s Espanyol. The Galician technician refuses to lose hope and takes advantage of public appearances to stretch the ears of an entity that has not been able to fulfill, until now, what it promised in the summer.
Espanyol sold Diego Martínez a project that he has not yet been able to execute due to the financial limitations it entails. The double impact of the pandemic and the decline significantly affected the ordinary income of an entity that, as if that were not enough, has even more problems when it comes to generating extraordinary income: it does not manage to make cash with players, its owner cannot execute new capital increases and has also broken the contractual relationship with one of its main sponsors, Bitci, due to non-payments. All of this conditions the development of a sports plan that fails to take off during Chen Yansheng’s tenure. The club wants to revive through real estate levers, but its activation will not be any less immediate.
At the white-and-blues’ rival this Sunday (2 p.m., M. LaLiga), Getafe, there are two people who know first-hand the limitations of the Spanish project. One of them is the technician, Quique Sánchez Flores, who came to describe the white-and-blue roadmap as a “ghost”. “The project was sold badly and there were still people complaining because we didn’t go to Europe”, he said in an interview with Jot Down. In the summer of 2017, the Madrid coach and Jordi Lardín, the then sporting director, managed to bring in the additions of players such as Borja Valero, Banega, Albiol and Mariano, who would have raised the level of the squad. Espanyol, however, failed to sign one. A few months later, Quique Sánchez Flores ended up negotiating with Stoke City, an exit that did not materialize in January. He was fired five days into the end of that season.
Now the Madrid coach is working side by side with Ramon Planes, who before joining Getafe was scouted by Espanyol, as ARA reported in March. The Lleida native declined the proposal because he considered it was not the right time to return to the white-and-blue club. Espanyol had proposed a project that sought to find a financial balance, without making large investments in the staff, where they would try to boost grassroots football and young people again, as had already happened in the previous stage of Planes in the club, now more than a decade ago. Aside from the squad, they would try to bring in between three and four players each year who required little financial investment. The replacement at the head of the club’s management by his main guarantor at Espanyol, José María Durán, ended up alienating Planes from the white-and-blue entity.
The situation that Diego Martínez is experiencing now was also suffered by two previous coaches. The first, Joan Francesc Ferrer Rubi, who left Espanyol shortly after qualifying for Europe. “The club had a roadmap and did not want to change it. Maybe we should have taken a small step if we wanted to be on a higher scale, but there were some budget plans and I was told that we could not spend more. The investment, in the end, was made in December”, lamented the Maresmenc in an interview with ARA.
Poor sporting and economic planning in the summer of 2019 led to relegation to Segona. The person in charge of rescuing the club, in 2020, was Vicente Moreno, who was also a victim of broken promises. When Espanyol went to sign the coach from Massanassa in Mallorca, they offered him a three-year contract with three very clear objectives: direct promotion in the first year, consolidation in Primera in the second and, finally, fighting for Europe the third. This roadmap had to be accompanied by an investment plan that would increase year after year. Vicente Moreno accomplished more than enough in the two seasons he led the team, but he was fired before the end of his second year.
Espanyol, in those two years, invested less than 9 million euros in reinforcements. Now the white-and-blue club has two weeks to fix all the homework it didn’t do well in the summer. It is a key January to convince Diego Martínez to fulfill his second year of contract. If he doesn’t follow through, no one will be able to blame him for not warning in time of the problems he sensed. The next fortnight will inevitably evoke the month of January 2020, when a record investment of 42.5 million euros in four players was not enough to keep Espanyol in Primera.