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SEASON REVIEW 2013/14: COACHING ANALYSIS

17 Jun 2014
Complex season for Fernando Vázquez; he faced very difficult situations off the pitch and never lost the composure to end clinching the promotion. However, he was questioned for his decisions as his team lowered the performance.

Perhaps the biggest debate on this season. Did Fernando Vázquez made an acceptable season? It’s easy to answer yes considering that Deportivo clinched the promotion back to Primera in what seemed it was going to be a dark season, but the situation is more complex considering the circumstances.

First to all to remember that Vázquez was never blamed for the past relegation; actually it was commented that if he would have arrived before then perhaps the demotion to Segunda wouldn’t have happened. So, his continuity ahead of this season was saw as a good thing and even as fundamental. He stayed signing a contract for one more year plus the option to stay in case of securing the promotion.

He was at the ringside to watch the “civil war” lived by Depor in July, a fight that almost cost the existence of the club itself, and Vázquez stand the martyrdom without complaining and even acted as a link between the fans and the players after the confrontation occurred on July 31. ”We lived tense moments, but I believe we already surpassed it. So, we all must look forward. Now the goal is important, which is to compete at Segunda División and bring hope. Let’s forgive the past and look to the future. That’s what I’m asking. The fans should be supporting at the highest level just like they always did. I’m convinced it will be like that.” He said on August 03.

The pre-season was also chaotic, the signings arrived late and the team was only reinforced with B team members for the friendly matches; actually Vázquez only had 18 players at the first team for the first months in the competition, a really low number considering this is the longest league competition in Spain. He even lost Bruno Gama, who was supposed to be the main stone of the project.

And the Castrofeito-born coach was remain optimistic despite everything; as he said before the opening matchday against UD Las Palmas, , “We always knew it was going to be like this; sort or less I was mentally prepared to live this during the pre-season, waiting, lacking tranquility and with uncertainty, even that the season was going to be started with the B team players, but this is the reality and it is what we have to live with. It isn’t a situation that brings tranquility, but I must be positive and try to obtain the best from what we already have.”

Vázquez was the voice of wisdom, perhaps not happy in the inside, but never saying anything out of place. And this delicate situation brought the best of the coach, because by the end of 2013 Deportivo were already the leader at Segunda División ,just when the fans had more doubts and when even to only clinch the permanence was understood as a good outcome for the season.

But the problems weren’t over, after lasting a couple of months in building up a team around Culio, El Profesor had to start all over the again after the Argentine man decided to leave. However the club seized this situation and converted it into a positive situation, because the money collected (and saved) from the sale of Culio was wisely used to reinforce the team.

Deportivo released three players and made five signings during the winter window, raising the number of players at the first team to 21. Suddenly Depor scared off the doubts and by January it was already the favorite in the competition, even considered as the best team in the league due to the players at the squad.

It was then that, strangely, Fernando Vázquez started to commit important mistakes, just when the situation seemed more manageable, something that increased the doubts on his skills to control the situation of a team that, in case of reaching the promotion, was destined to live difficult times at Primera.

His insistence in playing with three centre-backs was very unpopular among the fans and analysts, especially after the team failed to achieve the results in the games, like in the 1-1 draw before CD Tenerife at the Riazor (matchday 32). Even in the game won by Depor using this system, the 1-2 win at AD Alcorcón (matchday 27), the tactic was questioned for not bringing confidence to the team.

Vázquez was also criticized for some more specific decisions, like leaving Luis Fernández out of the list of picked players without a clear reason, or to pull players like Marchena and Juan Carlos out of the starting formations just when their replacements (Rabello and Lopo) didn’t match the expectations. This period coincided with a more measured Vázquez, different from the “crazy man” that used to run all over the side during the games after the team was scoring a goal. It was even debated if his passion was already over.

Deportivo reached the peak on matchday 35 after a 0-3 win at RCD Mallorca, after that Depor lived a low point in which it only won one of the last seven matches. The criticism towards the coach was increased then, because he never found the solutions to fix the problems.

But the “old” Vázquez returned for the last week. The support of the public awoke his passion and once again he was running on the sides and was the first person encouraging the public. After the 1-0 win over Real Jaén (matchday 41), result that secured the promotion, he confessed how difficult was to face the season, “It was the goal of the beginning. I was demanding the promotion to the team. I am exhausted. I gave everything. Maybe it was the most difficult year in a sporting sense. For me it was the most important promotion achieved in my career, the prettiest and the last one. You are big when you have a big group of fans, and Depor will always be big for this reason.”

The promotion meant to increase the contract of the Basque coach for two more seasons, something already established at the beginning of the campaign. Nobody can deny that he made a great joy keeping everything at its place during the dark days at the beginning of the year, but at the same time it should be admitted that he left many doubt in his way to administrate the team and make decisions during the games, doubts that open the question regarding the upcoming future of Depor at Liga BBVA. It’s the debate that could only be solved after analyzing the result on the new Primera campaign.

TACTICAL ANALYSIS
Vázquez used four draws during the season: 4-2-3-1 (31 times at the starting eleven), 4-1-4-1 (8), 4-4-2 (2) and 5-4-1 (1). During the games the Galician tactician was used to transform the 4-2-3-1 into a 4-1-4-1 removing a centre midfielder or even only with advancing the position of Juan Dominguez leaving Álex Bergantiños alone in the pivote functions. He later started to use the 5-4-1 as an alternative, which was hardly criticized as it barely worked out to achieve good results.

The stats reinforce this belief as, in the middle of the meetings, Depor switched the 4-2-3-1 or the 4-1-4-1 for a line with three centre backs during seven opportunities, and the team only won once and it was with a late goal: 1-2 at AD Alcorcón (matchday 27). 

Depor’s coach was criticized for been too conservative, mainly in the second part of the season, time when the squad had up to five centre forwards at the squad. But he only used the 4-4-2 in two opportunities, in the first round meeting against Deportivo Alavés (matchday 17) and in the closing game against Girona FC.

What happened is that Vázquez was obsessed in keeping the control of the games, something he frequently mentioned during his press conferences. For this reason he was always preferring to put a midfielder before placing a striker, and only played with two centre forwards just when the promotion was already secured.

Besides to the failure using the line with three centre-backs, the other two big problems of the coach was to administrate the players and to find the way to replace the wingers, the later turned to be a big difficulty after the exit of Bruno Gama, it was partially solved with the arrival of Salomão, but later the Portuguese suffered a serious knee injury and the same problem returned.

Among the successes of the coach it was to discover Álex as a reliable centre-back, to change his mind with Diego Seoane, who turned to be a starter at the end of the season performing at the left side of the defense, and to fit Sissoko into the starting eleven, a player that seemed problematic, but that in the end turned to be a stronghold for Deportivo.
RCDLC.com rating: 7.0

ARCHIVE NEWS JUNE/14

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