Backless Betis crumble at home to Eibar – borrowed time for Mel?

I’m afraid this post won’t make for pleasant reading, unless you’re an Eibar or Sevilla fan.One word I came across that I didn’t know before – esperpento – summed it up: a grotesque sight, piece of nonsense, absurdity. Betis are officially a different beast from what they once were, in fact they are not even a beast, more of a tame, defenceless calf ready to be led to the slaughterhouse.

That slaughterhouse is called el estadio Benito Villamarín. I’ve never known Betis to show such inept, disastorous, relegation-beckoning home form. This season it reads: loss, loss, loss, loss, draw, draw, loss. That’s four goals scored and fourteen conceded. The record breaking 40,000+ Béticos who purchased a season ticket after promotion will be thinking they have been on the end of a Lopera-like con. Yes, it has become that bad that we can even joke about that criminal.

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The ‘real’ Betis we want to see

Este sí es mi Betis” – Reyes Aguilar on Twitter. This, yes, is my Betis.

A 1-1 draw at home to Celta de Vigo may not sound like much, but it signalled for a lot of people the return of the Betis we love to watch. Not the scoreline, but the manner of the play and performance from the players on the pitch.

Especially that of midfield general: Petros.

He had a sublime game, one which was not missed by the Twitterati, in fact his name was trending in Spain his performance was that good. Petros signed from Corinthians in the summer and has so far had 6.5/10 kind of season; on Saturday he must have been a solid 9.

His statistics show how important he is becoming for Pepe Mel: often topping the stats for balls recovered. pass percentage complete and kilometres covered. He’s not just a defensive-minded DM though, he looks forward and gets the team moving.

Respected journalist, Mateo González, said: “Provoca la roja, asiste en el gol, recupera infinidad de balones, refleja el espíritu del equipo y acierta en el pase. Completísimo.” He provoked the red, assisted the goal, recuperated an infinity of balls, reflected the spirit of the team and got his passing right. Totally complete.

Celta are no push over. According to the league table, they are the 4th best team in Spain at the minute, only surpassed by the usual three front-runners. Large swathes of the game were under Betis control, 60% of possession tells this story. Yet it was Celta who took the lead against the run of play in the first half thanks to a neat, instinctive finish from Bongonda. This Celta goal came seconds after Alfred N’Diaye was put clean through by Rubén Castro, but could not apply the finish. A lesson there in taking your chances.

With Petros playing a sterling role in the centre keeping the likes of the deadly Nolito, Orellana and Iago Aspas largely trouble free, it should have been left to Dani Ceballos, Joaquín, Rubén Castro and Cejudo to create the chances. Los verdiblancos did have chances, 27 in fact (including those blocked) compared to Celta’s five. One of Betis’ closer attempts was a wonderful freekick from Joaquín that crashed against the post. This came after Petros had robbed the ball yet again high up the pitch and was pulled back, resulting in Jonny getting his marching orders.

The goal came in the 82nd minute from an unlikely pairing: Petros to Molina. Yes, Jorge Molina got his first goal of the season after being slid through by the Brazilian, in one of his 92% of completed passes! It was a moment of justice for the big forward who has endured a very tough season, featuring little and being criticised a lot. This shows he can still play a key part this season.

The Return of Vadillo

vadillo real betisVadillo technically returned to Pepe Mel’s plans mid-week when he featured against Sporting in the Copa del Rey. He scored a wonderful goal then and it looks like he could play a key part in this season’s campaign.

He came off the bench in the second half last night and put in another good performance. He feels very much like a new signing! Vadillo was very nearly sold this summer to Rayo Vallecano, in what would have been an absolute steel for the madrileños. I’ve been a huge fan of Vadillo and have written so here many times. He’s got a raw talent that is not seen that often and I think given an injury-free run, he can be crucial to Betis. He has been so unlucky with injuries in his short career: two cruciate knee catastrophes by the time he was 20 years old!

Looking forward to seeing him feature a lot more in the coming weeks/months, as is perhaps his biggest fan Linus Lövgren!

The only thing that was missing last night from Betis was a win, but if they continue to play like that, there will be plenty of them to celebrate.

Betis 1 – 3 Athletic Bilbao: clueless Betis outclassed

It never rains, it only pours in Betis-land. The club suffered their third home defeat in a row in torrential conditions as the whole squad were found wanting save for a few; namely Adán, possibly N’Diaye and maybe Digard.

Losing 3-1 actually makes it sound closer than it was. Betis played without conviction, without confidence and without knowledge. Looking for any identity was like looking for a particular clown fish in the Pacific Ocean – it just wasn’t there. To think Betis started the game above Athletic is fairly absurd judging by the vast differential gulf in quality, effort and classiness.

On his return to el Benito Villamarín, that little midfield magician, Beñat Exteberria, absolutely ran the show. Everything went through him. It was a midfield masterclass in passing, movement, decisiveness, creativty, tracking – he had it all. He almost single-handedly made it seem like Betis just didn’t have a midfield.

In the centre they had N’Diaye and Ceballos. N’Diaye had a decent game, tried hard, made a few last ditch tackles when the defence went missing and tried to stamp a notion of authority. Ceballos, however, was non-existent. I know he is 19, but if he is to merit a starting place, which he certainly can do, he needs to learn fast.

I feel he could actually be a very similar to player to Beñat. He’s got the same tenacity, good ball skills and an eye for an incisive pass, but he was completely and utterly outclassed last night. What he should do is watch a video of this game and pick up everything Beñat did. Then watch it again.

As for the Betis defence, it was full on woeful. Centre-backs Pezzella and Bruno were literally all over the show. At times I had no idea where they’d wondered off to or why. Molinero and Piccini were just as bad.

That being said, Athletic Bilbao were very good. Young forward Iñaki Williams scored two good goals. The first came early on as Betis, for the umpteenth time this season went 1-0 down early on. Fighting an up hill battle straight away. Adán made a few good saves and Athletic wasted a few chances. To go 2-0 down at half time was lucky. At time I genuinely thought Athletic had about 15 players and Betis about 7.

Pepe Mel declared the first half was, “very poor”. It wasn’t that good. The second half wasn’t much better either. Didier Digard came off the bench and actually gave Betis a bit of shape. He also put himself about and gave Betis a bit of much needed character!

Los verdiblancos got a fairly lucky handball penalty and Rubén Castro tucked it away. They then look half-dangerous for about 10 minutes and could have possible equalised after good play from Ricky Van Wolkswinkel, who made his first start. Athletic weathered the storm then killed the game off when Raúl Garcia pinged one in from 25 yards.

At the end of the game, Mel said Athletic were a good team and talked about them beating Barcelona etc. Yes they did, but just say, “we were shambolically shit”? This was an Athletic team who although in good form, had lost 4 out of 5 games at the start of the season.

Ok rant over.

Having said all that I don’t think we should start panicking just yet.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 20.05.44

The table doesn’t look too bad. However, the performance has to get better. If we start to continue to slide down the table then I’ll start to worry.

For now I’m still behind Pepe Mel, although I don’t think the majority of Béticos are. Many are citing his lack of leadership and capacity to manage the situation as problems that are just too big. To me it either looks like the players aren’t putting in as much effort as they should be, they’re being told the wrong thing to do, or that they aren’t being trained correctly, e.g. zonal marking?!?! The amount of times Athletic had about 4 players queuing up from a cross to pop it in the net – zonal marking doesn’t work!!

Something needs to be done fast. That’s it for now. Up next is Málaga away on Saturday. Málaga are floundering just above the relegation zone, so a result there is pretty vital.

Manquepierda!

Can Betis break free of their chains? Athletic next up tonight

Sitting in 10th place in La Liga, equal points with Sevilla who’ve played a game more and two places above Athletic Bilbao, any one would think Betis have made a good start to the season. More or less everyone does think Betis have made a solid start being back in La Liga; apart from quite a few disgruntled Béticos.

Seems strange writing that. I’ve been quite happy with the start they’ve made. There are a lot of new faces and it clearly does take time to gel. The problem many fans have is the style Pepe Mel has adopted. It’s neither attacking nor defensive and all just a bit stale and blah. The fans want the Betis style: swarming forward, creating chances, fighting the whole way.

A very difficult call for Mel who has shown in the past that the Betis style is his natural style. However, Betis are a club on the move. New president, new board, new SD, new players. The club wants stability. They want to stay in La Liga and creep there way up to the European places. Playing gung-ho football is not the best way to get there some might say. It’s possible a little birdy has had a word in Pepe Mel’s year.

I asked a question to The Spanish Football Podcast hosted by Sid Lowe and Phil Kitromilides on whether they think Mel will go. They back up my view that they would be shocked if he was to be sacked again so soon and very much thought he should stay on. You can catch up with the pod -here https://soundcloud.com/thespanishfootballpodcast – question is near the end of the most recent post.

A lot of clubs are adopting this approach these days. It’s all about the finances. Achieving the highest place in the table, not for pride, but for the money of course.

Saying that I’ve become aware via Twitter of a new movement at the club. Por Nuestro Betis is an association of fans vying to defend the club’s best interests and control it in the way the think it should be. I’m going to try and right an article about it in the near future, but for know if you’re interested in reading more here’s a piece on the Federación de Accionistas y Socios del Fútbol Español website – Asociación de Béticos.

Team News

I got slightly distracted there, but onto the team news for tonight’s 19:30 GMT (20:30, Spain) encounter with Athletic Bilbao.

Big news is that Rafael Van der Vaart could be in the starting line-up. Having not played since the end of September, he’s now overcome his injuries, lost a bit of timber and is in the reckoning. All week in training, he’s been playing in what looks like the starting eleven. It would certainly give Betis something else. I’d like to see the Dutchman pair up alongside N’Diaye in the centre with Dani Ceballos in front.

Ceballos hasn’t started a game yet this season at home, he has to start this one!

If these three play with Joaquín and Portillo on the wings and Rubén Castro up top, Béticos wouldn’t be able to complain that Mel is playing defensive. Such a line-up may also put the cat amongst the pigeons for Ernesto Valverde, Athletic manager, who may be expecting a not so attacking approach.

Westermann has been declared injured, so we are likely to see the return of Germán Pezzella. The Argentinian has made a shaky start to his Betis career, but Mel rates him very highly. With his nerves settled he could become a very good player. He’s likely to pair up with Bruno at the centre of defence.

For Athletic, Susaeta, Williams and Laporte have beaten off injury problems to be included in the squad. They are missing a few key players however, such as Iker Muniain, Mikel Rico, Ander Iturraspe and Kike Sola.

castro y benatIn the list though is ex-Betis favourite, Beñat. Some may argue they’ve never filled the void since he left a few seasons back – I think Dani Ceballos is the man to step up but he needs to be given a proper chance, starting today!

Oh and look out for the new sponsor on front of the famous verdiblanco shirts. It will show UED Sports, our new Chinese sponsor.

Vamos Betis!!

Pepe Mel – should he stay or go?

Just when I, and a few other people, thought Betis had found their style, a new effective way to play, they have put in two very poor performances in the last two weeks.

A crushing 3-1 defeat at home to Espanyol last weekend and a lacklustre 1-1 draw away at Granada yesterday has left many béticos with a sense of emptiness and lack of optimism in regards to the future; in particular to the future of cult hero Pepe Mel. Before the international break things were fairly rosy at the club but since the return there’s a certain lingering sense of foreboding around the club.

ABC de Sevilla journalist, Mateo González, writes passionately today about the club asking – do Betis know how to play? What is our thing? Do we keep possession and try and break teams down with nice, attractive football? Do we sit back and play the counter attack with Joaquín and Rubén Castro punishing teams on the break? Do we play with a quick tempo or a slow tempo or something in between?

The answer is I don’t know. Neither do the fans and neither do the team.

Yesterday at Granada, who were rock bottom, Betis looked bad. They conceded after 2 minutes and that threw them off the whole game. Rubén Castro slotted home a penalty near the end of the first half during a period of 10 minutes were Betis looked half-dangerous. Aside from that, we didn’t see anything in regards to flair, spirit or capability.

More passion and the Betis way please Pepe!

More passion and the Betis way please Pepe!

Pepe Mel said, “we had too many hesitations”. It seems to be the same problem: if it’s not Rubén Castro then it’s nobody. Mel started Rennella up top who contributed precisely nothing. Summer signing Portillo, who hasn’t really impressed me, also did nothing.

Despite signing a new contract after months of wrangling and committing his immediate future to Betis, Dani Ceballos was left on the bench, although he is easily one of our best players. Why? Not sure. He came on in the second half and had no impact whatsoever. Don’t really blame him, the game was half dead.

Let’s be clear, Betis have made a decent start to the season. They are sat in 10th place, with 12 points from 9 games: three wins, draws and losses apiece (exactly the same as Sevilla). The only aim of this season is safety. Do not get relegated. So, for me Pepe Mel’s job should not be under fire.

However, a few béticos are starting to panic and get a little worried about the unfolding situation. It seems that Betis have lost their mojo and impetus. Historically, Pepe Mel’s team are attacking, exciting and good to watch. Defence was always a second thought and this fitted the Betis philosophy perfectly. It didn’t work all the time but the fans liked it. However, Mel got accused of a lack of tactile nouse, the inability to adopt a different approach to get a result. I know I used to write about it at the time.

Build the team around Ceballos

Build the team around Ceballos

Right now we are seeing a whole lot of nothing. As Mateo González says, with the likes of Rubén Castro, Joaquín and Ceballos, Betis have the talent that their rivals for relegation just don’t have. The team needs to be centred around these 3 – sin duda! Combine these with Alfred N’Diaye in centre-midfield, Westermann/Bruno centre-defence and Antonio Adán in goal and Betis have a very solid team.

We have seen a few versions of Betis already this season and right now according to Miguel Ángel Benítez Merelo, we are seeing a flat and grey version. Like Mateo, Miguel writes passionately about the two versions of Pepe Mel. The first when he took over and the second version since his reinstatement. Miguel says Mel is now more defensive and more resultadista – driven by results and not the brand of football that made him a fan favourite.

He and I’m sure the majority of the fans want to see good football. Boring just isn’t Betis. The club motto – long live Betis even when we lose – relates to the football played. If the players but in an entertaining performance full of heart and determination, the fans will love them. Despite this there does need to be an element, a slight element, of results play. The last thing we want is to be back in la segunda again. This balance needs to be struck.

Watching the game yesterday I was urging the team to do something. At 1-1 the game was there for the taking for both sides. I wanted to see Betis go for it! Try and sneak that second goal – like they did at Sporting Gijón – and show a bit of ambition. If they concede whilst going to win the game then so be it, shit happens. That’s what used to happen. Perhaps Mel is trying to move Betis forward to become a more ‘effective’ team? Miguel doesn’t want this Mel.

I do agree, but I think getting rid of Mel now would be both cold and stupid. They did it last time and the club still ended up getting relegated. He deserves to have the time to get his team playing the way he wants. What he does need to do though is but Dani Ceballos in the centre of midfield and build a team around him.

News round-up over the International break

First and foremost, apologies for the silent treatment – holidays and what not have somewhat taken over.

We’re coming to the end of an International break with the final games being played tonight (Monday). Spain are already safely through to the finals next summer as Group C winners. They take on Ukraine with an experimental line-up. Of most interest to me is the inclusion of Celta de Vigo striker, Nolito, who happens to be from my adopted Spanish home – Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

So, what’s been happening in the world of Betis? 

The break came at a bad time for Betis who were enjoying a good spell. They recorded back to back wins for the first time this season with wins over Sporting Gijón and Rayo! They were the first back to back victories since the end of May in fact when they beat Racing Santander and Alcorcón to seal promotion and that includes pre-season!

Betis made the most of the break and scheduled a friendly with Mérida, a team from Extremadura. The game played out 0-0 to which Betis won the succeeding penalty shoot out. It was a chance for Pepe Mel to look at the fringe players. Mel opted for Dani G in goal, a back four of Molinero, Pezzella, Jordi and Tarek, defensive midfield of Digard and Xavi Torres, and the rest made up of Kadir, Fabián, Vadillo and Rennella.

vadillo real betis

Forgotten Man: Alvaro Vadillo

Two names stand out for me: that of Didier Digard getting his first full 90 minutes for Betis and the return of the forgotten man, Alvaro Vadillo.

After injury Digard desperately needed 90 minutes to up his fitness as he is a player that could come in useful this season. Vadillo very nearly joined Rayo in the summer in a loan deal, but it fell through. Since then he has got his head gone, had to train on his own and worked hard. He got his first minutes here since May and Mel was surprised with his fitness saying he had gone “quite well”.

I’m glad Vadillo stayed and believe he can play a big part in this team too. He plays an almost identical position to Joaquín and I think he can learn a lot from this magnificent pro.

Change in Style

It’s come to light that Betis have had a style change. Instead of possession football they have gone all Sam Allardyce Bolton Wanderers on us. From a wannabe Barcelona they have transformed into a solid block, pressing hard, closing down spaces and playing much more direct. It’s a directness with precision which has become effective, as evidenced in the last game against Rayo.

This should put it into perspective: only Levante have made fewer passes in the league this year!

Pepe Mel summed it up nicely after the Rayo game, he said, “Rayo were waiting for the other Betis.” After a good start to the season, we hope this solid, yet dangerous block will continue to develop and improve.

Ceballos situation still hasn’t been resolved

Let’s be clear, Real Madrid want to sign him. He would like to move to Madrid (most young Spanish players would) but he is also happy at Betis. He has an offer on the table from Betis to make him the third highest earning player here after Rubén Castro and Joaquín; otherwise known as a bloody good offer.

There could be a deal done where Madrid sign the player, but he remains at Betis for another year or two. Madrid aren’t in a rush for him as he won’t walk into the starting line-up, they just want to snap up the talent so no one else gets him.

Players to go in January

Sporting Director, Eduardo Macià, has said that more players will leave in January than come in, if any do. Betis currently have a huge first team squad of 25, so it does need to be chopped down.

Next game for Betis is Espanyol at home on Saturday – look out for the preview.

Preview: Real Madrid vs Betis

molina

Can Molina score again at the Bernabeu?

After last week’s respectable 1-1 draw against Villarreal, Betis will face a far tougher test this weekend against Rafa Benítez’s Real Madrid.

If Betis didn’t know they had returned to La Liga standards, they certainly will be Saturday night. However, Betis shouldn’t be daunted. They have been here before not too long ago and manager Pepe Mel, who returns to his homeland, has managed Betis to over 100 games in the top flight.

Betis made several mistakes last week against the yellow submarine, but managed to get away with it. There shall be no such letting off against the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and his chums.

By Madrid’s very high standards, they have made a slow start, albeit they have only played one game! However, that one game was against newly promoted Sporting Gijón, who Betis comfortably finished above last season. Madrid stuttered to a 0-0 draw away from home.

This weekend though could see the return of their famous BBC attack – Bale, Benzema and Cristiano. The Welshman and Frenchman have returned to training this week and will be sure to play a part this weekend. That coupled with the fact they will be in front of their home crowd at the Santiago Bernabeu means Betis will be facing a different beast to that faced by Gijón the week before.

Betis are likely to line up the same as last week. Perhaps the only change that might occur is Jorge Molina coming out for someone more defensive, for example a fit-again Didier Digard to make his competitive debut.

Dani Ceballos has trained ‘marvellously’ this week according to Pepe Mel, but his situation is no more clear. He’ll be on the bench again to come on as an impact player, although we could certainly do with having him on from the start.

Last time Betis journeyed to the Bernabeu two years ago, they narrowly lost 2-1. Only a late goal from Isco managed to get Madrid all 3 points. From that team in 2013, there is only one player that will make the squad this weekend – Jorge Molina.

From a bético perspective, let’s hope Saturday night’s game will be just as close, with perhaps Rubén Castro sneaking a winner in the 87th minute this time.

Kick off is 21:30 GMT.

Mucho Betis!

Vargas joins the ‘Project’ as pre-season rolls on

vargas

Juan Manuel Vargas (image from eldesmarque.com)

Juan Manuel Vargas rolled into Santa Justa train station on Monday evening to become Betis’ 8th summer signing.

The 31 year old Peru international is set to sign, subject to completing a medical tomorrow, for two years with an optional third year. He was a free agent after his contract at Fiorentina ran out. It seems obvious that former Fiorentina sporting director, Eduardo Macià, was key in getting the player onto the Betis books.

Vargas can play anywhere down the left hand side, but has developed more as an left sided attacking midfielder renowned for a superb cross. He’s nickname is ‘El Loco’ – the mad one.

Now, Betis really do need to offload some first team players.

Pre-Season Continues

Since returning from Germany, the level of performance on the field has been raised. Pepe Mel says the team ‘va a mejorando’ – it’s getting better, but there is still a lot of improvement to be made.

On Friday los verdiblancos took on Recreativo de Huelva and ran out 2-1 winners. Betis were 1-0 down at half time after conceding a poor goal from a simple free kick from the right hand side. The second half performance improved and Betis were dominant. Two goals from Jorge Molina ensured Betis went home winners, and he could have had a hat-trick but skied a penalty in the closing stages.

On Sunday evening, Pepe Mel and his men took on La Liga outfit Espanyol in Catalonia. They faced up to a couple of familiar faces in the shape of Jose Cañas and the silver fox, Salva Sevilla. It was a decent showing with Dani Ceballos showing a lot of people what he is about with some terrific moments of skill and incision.

Rubén Castro gave Betis the lead before Felipe Caicedo evened things up. As the game was for Trofeo Ciudad de Barcelona, a draw was no good, so the game went straight to penalties. It was perfect scoring for both sides with nine penalties scored out of nine before Ceballos stepped up for Betis.

In a example of ‘he’s still got a lot to learn’, Ceballos tried to be too clever and chip the goal into the goal. However, he was made to look a bit stupid as the goalkeeper literally stood there and caught the goal in front of his face. That is not to taint what was a good performance from the youngster, showing his capability of performing on a higher level.

Next up for Betis in what will be their final friendly, is Granada on 14th August before the season kicks off properly against Villarreal.

Passion of 40,000 needs to be matched but Betis won’t spend anymore

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.

40,000 signed up! Queues outside the stadium (image from sevilla.abc.es - Raúl Doblado)

40,000 signed up! Queues outside the stadium (image from sevilla.abc.es – Raúl Doblado)

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.

Little and Large: Molina y Rubén Castro

Reliance on Rubén can’t last forever

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

Vadillo: Huge talent lost (image from marca.com)

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.

Busy Betis preparing for La Liga

Eduardo Macià’s office has been a busy place since he took over in May. Since the season end it seems like Betis have been linked to a new player every day.

Sporting Director Macià and Pepe Mel are working hard to ensure that Betis have a squad that can first of all survive their first season back in La Liga, and secondly move forward in future years to compete at a higher level.

vdv

VdV has talked about the ‘marvellous’ project on-going at Betis

The signing of Rafael Van der Vaart is an indication of this, although it still hasn’t been made official. However it is now being widely noted that Van der Vaart will arrive in Seville on Sunday night, finalise the details and hopefully sign on the dotted line tomorrow for Betis! He will no doubt give the club a boost, provide lots of experience for the younger players and increase bargaining powers with other agents and potential players too.

jony rod

Jony on the radar

A player Betis would very much like to sign is Jony Rodríguez of Sporting Gijón. The 23 year old fits the winger bill that Betis need to fill. Exciting going forward but also capable of helping out in defence. It will be a tricky signing because Sporting have also just been promoted from Segunda to La Liga, so they will not be wanting to let go of one of their star players. It will take a few million to prise him away from the north of Spain.

Los Verdiblancos have been linked with Fiorentina (where Macià used to be Sporting Director) midfielder, David Pizarro, who is currently playing in the Copa America in Chile. However, a move for the brother of Claudio, has been ruled out by Betis secretary Alexis Trujillo. The centre of midfield is a fairly full at the minute with N’Diaye, Ceballos, Xavi Torres, Lorenzo Reyes and as of tomorrow, Van der Vaart.

nono

Nono is on his way out of Betis

The three players who went on loan in the winter – Nono, Sergio Rodríguez and Chuli – will find it difficult to stake a place in the squad next season. Macià is set to have a meeting with each player in the near future to tell them if there future lies at Betis or not. Chuli is the only one I think who has half a chance of being kept on after scoring 11 goals in 21 games whilst on loan at Leganés.

As for Nono, who never really impressed me, he went on loan to second division German club Sandhausen and failed to make a single appearance. Unfortunately the future for him doesn’t look too bright.