Not everything is going swimmingly at el Benito Villamarín during the pre-season.
The astounding finish to last season by the team to earn promotion back to La Liga seems to be a distant memory now. The buzz around the club, particularly on-field, seems to have slipped away slightly.
Pre-season is a time to experiment with players and formations, a time to get a few minutes under the belt and increase fitness in preparation to the all-important first game. Results don’t matter and nobody gets any points under the jornada 1. All that is a given, but as a fan you are still craving for a little glimmer, a little something to whet your appetite.
The fantastic form since Christmas has been dashed away, with a rather unimpressive one win in six. Betis’ poor performances against the likes of San Roque de Lepe, Vitoria Setúbal and Darmstadt 98, thankfully, have not put the fans off.
Off-field things have been looking extremely rosy. An unbelievable 40,000 fans have purchased a season-ticket for the new season. El Benito Villamarín is a 52,000 seater stadium, which means at least 77% will be sold out each home game.
Betis have signed a fantastic kit deal with Adidas, upgrading from Macron and also have the benefit of more incoming money from the TV rights of being in La Liga.
Despite all this, the club still insists it has ‘no dinero‘. This no money stance has meant the signing of lesser known players, such as Petros and Pezzella. These players could turn out to be amazing signings and everybody might be frothing at the mouth over the vision and insight of the scouting system.
The club have no doubt done some very good business; Van der Vaart on a free is brilliant. Yet, it is obvious the club need two, three, possible even four more players to make them fighting fit for La Liga. However, the club isn’t willing to spend any more money, only free or loan players.
The lack of goals and velocity is a bit scary. Rubén Castro is an absolutely superb player, but if he doesn’t pop it in the back of the net, who will? I have always highlighted the uneasy reliance on Castro as something that Betis need to address. Another striker is key. There is no chance of Osvaldo joining now, hopefully Maciá has someone else in line.
Betis have released three players – Kadir, Lolo Reyes and Alvaro Vadillo.
Vadillo is a sad loss. Still at the age of 20, it seems like he has been around for a good while. Vadillo was, and still is, a huge, huge talent and it is a shame to see him go. Since 2011 he has played 46 intermittent games for Betis, mainly due to two cruciate knee ligament injuries.
This terrible luck has undoubtedly stunted his potential, meaning when he has been in the team he has been unable to truly impress like he did when he first appeared in the team becoming the second ever youngest player to appear in La Liga.
The start of the proper campaign is three weeks around the corner, enough time to sort out these teething problems, but not enough time to flounder about. The team and management need to start now.