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.

A new verdiblanco – Bienvenido Joan Verdú

A piece of news thverduat nobody anticipated, Real Betis have completed the signing of, as the Spanish like to say, un crack! Despite being given a 4 year contract at the age of 30, Joan Verdú is very, very good business. He is a clever midfielder, experienced, great on the ball and a leader, and it makes saying adios to Beñat much easier.

Verdú arrives in the green and white side of Seville from the gold and red of Cataluña, Barcelona-based Espanyol to be precise. He has a great reputation in Spain and we will act as a good mentor for the younger midfielders, such as Alvaro Vadillo, Nosa, Nono and Vilarchao. Even better news is that Verdú was free as he was out of contract. Many expected him to follow the money and he was linked with a big offer from Greek side Olympiakos. But not to be. He joined the ambitious and passion club that is Real Betis.

I feel that Pepe Mel, Vlada Stosic and the rest of the decision makers and strengthening the squad nicely ahead of the up and coming Europa League campaign.

Verdú is the 6th pre-season signing. The others include:

Danish goalkeeper, Stephen Anderson. Exciting midfielder Juanfran from Real Madrid Castilla. Winger, Cedric, from Numancia. Chile international Lorenzo Reyes from is a midfielder bought from Huachipato. And finally (so far), striker Chuli arrives from Recreativo.

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Lorenzo Reyes in action for Chile against Brazil