Viva Pepe Mel!

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Gracias por todo Pepe Mel

What a sad day the 2nd December 2013 was in the history of Real Betis Balompié. Without day the lowest point I have had as a Bético myself.

The Legend. The Iconic. Don Pepe Mel. Sacked.

Many general football fans had cited the sacking due to Betis’ position in the league, their form and the awful sacking culture that enshrines Spanish football these days. But almost all right-minded Béticos were fully behind Señor Mel.

Real Betis Balompié is not just any football club. It is a club based on faith, passion and obsession. They don’t sack managers willy-nilly after a poor run of form; but yesterday they made a short-sighted, passionless, unfaithful decision.

The facts are there to see. In Mel’s three and a half years at the club he has taken them from Segunda to Europa League. Whilst being in administration with almost no resources. A remarkable transition. Pepe Mel put so much into the club, but the chance for him to enjoy the fruits of his labour has been ripped from him. What a travesty.

So what has brought this on? Terrible form? Yes. No hope of changing this around? NO. There’s no doubt that this season Mel has been dealt a bad hand. Losing one of your most influential players during the off-season (Beñat) doesn’t help. Losing your best striker and best player (Rubén Castro) for the whole of the season so far definitely doesn’t help. The players that have been brought in during the summer (all 14 of them) have not been up to scratch. The guy in charge of bringing them in sacked? No. Vlada Stosic (Sporting Director) made the signings, gave them to Mel and expected him to deal with it, incorporate them all in to the squad smoothly and do just as well this season as in the previous. That’s not really going to happen Señor Stosic.

The club then take the decision to sack their main man on the weekend they conceded a last minute equaliser to Rayo Vallecano and their best player and main/only goalscorer returns from injury. Madness!

It has happened. We can’t change this now. All we can say is thank you for the sterling, almost unbelievable job, that Pepe Mel has done Real Betis Balompié. In an emotionally charged final press conference last night, Mel bid farewell to the club and to the fans. I’ve never seen a manager so emotional before. This man is a true Bético through and through. How could the club not be in good hands with a true fan at the helm? Not just a fan but a bloody good manager. A manager who approaches the game the right way – attacking and exciting. Make sure you watch this short video of Mel’s words from last night. The first man you see if Miguel Guillen, Betis President, who then hands it over to Pepe.

There is another video, which I have posted below, from el Benito Villamarín last night which shows how the fans feel about the decision and how they feel towards Pepe Mel. Indignant doesn’t really come close. The man is a legend to so many people.

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Thank you Pepe Mel. Gracias.

First press conference of the season for Don Pepe Mel

pepe mel“The objectives are clear. Get as far as possible in three competitions. It is our obligation”.

Of course Don Pepe is referring to La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Europa League. Mel is under no illusion that the squad needs improving and strengthening to be able to fulfil this obligation and compete on all three fronts.

The club haven’t been messing around during the off-season and have already taken steps to improve the first team squad by making six signings; the latest of which is goalkeeper Guillermo Sara, although Mel did state of Sara, “no es jugador del Betis” – he is not a Betis player – because he hasn’t signed anything officially. Sara has been in the city of Seville since Thursday so I think we can say his signing is imminent.

Mel said he is in permanent contact with Vlada (Vlada Stosic – the director of football), Emilio (Emilio Vega – one of the technical secretaries) and Keke (Keke Duran – another technical secretary) and that he is satisfied with their work.

Mel’s priority now is to sign another centre back after Mario’s (more than likely) departure to give the squad good strength is depth. At the moment Betis have Paulao, Perquis and Amaya in their ranks, one more top player will make this position hotly contested.

A player of Verdu’s caliber will do! Of Verdu, Mel states that he is not a replacement for Beñat. He is absolutely right, considering that Verdu is a much more offensive player than Beñat who liked to sit back and dictate play from the centre of the field. Verdu will also be wearing the number 10 shirt; a shirt number for an attacking midfielder if ever there was one.

He also talks about Betis B and their relegation to la Tercera – Spain’s huge fourth tier of football. This is important because the Betis first team get lots of home-grown talent from the B team, but Mel says it doesn’t disrupt his plans and that “if there is someone that can provide [for the first team], it doesn’t matter where they come from.”

I think Betis also need some ‘lateral’ defenders, which Mel also comments on. At the minute we have Javi Chica, Nacho, Alex Martinez and Angel Lopez (although he isn’t listed on the club website?). Mel says that new signing from Real Madrid Castilla, Juanfran, can help out in the right back position or right midfield.

Of course, pre-season is the perfect opportunity to try out players in different positions and combinations.

Mel concludes with a positive and as ever puts a little perspective on proceedings.

“We want our people to have the outlook of a beautiful year, look back and remember 2010, the chaos the club was in. Enjoy the year and the team will not disappoint. The coaching staff will make sure that everything is functioning. The new players already know what Betis is about, and are beginning to understand the home and feel it.”

First press conference done. Here’s to a fantastic season!

Viva el Betis, manque pierda!