Profiles - Sergio

SERGIO GONZALEZ SORIANO
Squad Number 09/10: 8
Date of Birth: 10 November, 1976
Birthplace: Hospitalet de Llobregat (Barcelona)
Nationality: Spain (international from 2001 to 2005)
Contract: 2001 - 2010
Transfer: 17,9 million Euros (2.800 million pesetas) (2001)
Career: Deportivo (2001-now), Espanyol (1997-2001), Espanyol B, Hospitalet)
Buy-out Clause: ?
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 77 kg
Position: Midfielder (central)

 


Midfielder SERGIO GONZALEZ is definitely in the history books of Deportivo La Coruña. In 2008 he became Deportivo’s fourth player with most Primera matches behind his name, after legendary names Fran, Mauro Silva and Donato and passing by goalkeeper Juan Acuña. It indicates that Sergio always has been an important player to the club not depending if the coach was Irureta, Caparrós or Lotina. But he also will be very well-remembered for the goal he scored in 2002 at the Bernabéu which led Deportivo to win the Copa Del Rey against Real Madrid on their 100th birthday. The 2009-2010 campaign might be his farewell season.

 

GETTING AT DEPORTIVO
24-year old Sergio had made his Primera División debut at Camacho’s Espanyol, three years before arriving at Deportivo, on April 12th 1998 during a 2-0 home win against CD Tenerife. He played all the remaining matches that season and also scored his first goal during the derby match against mighty FC Barcelona (1-1). It led him to become mid-table Espanyol’s most important figure in the next three years. Whether his coach was Camacho, Bielsa, Brindisi or ‘Paco’ Flores, they all counted on his vision and strength in midfield which made Sergio to play 110 Primera matches in which he scored five goals for the ‘Periquitos’. Especially during the season 2000/2001 he was on fire when he scored four goals and only missed 79 Primera minutes. And Sergio was Espanyol’s match-winner in 2000 when his team, in the year of its 100-year existence, won the Copa del Rey against Atlético de Madrid. Obviously, being Espanyol’s main player, in the ranking above players like Raúl Tamudo and Roger, he became one of Spain’s most wanted players. His performances didn’t pass unnoticed to national coach Camacho, the same who gave him his Primera debut, and Sergio played his first match for Spain on March 24th 2001 during a 5-0 win against Liechtenstein.

During those days, the interest of Deportivo in signing him appeared in the newspapers. The Galicians were defending their Liga crown that year and for the first time ever were playing the Champions League. They were the only team able to challenge Real Madrid in the local competition and another participation in the lucrative Champions League was looming. So, Deportivo needed a broad squad to be competitive in all the tournaments. Aging Mauro Silva (33-years old) was unquestionable in the team, but his partner Flavio Conceicao had been sold in the summer of 2000 to Real Madrid. Coach Irureta regularly favoured to play with two pivotes (defensive midfielders) in his team to give freedom to creative figures like Fran and Víctor Sánchez but he wasn’t too convinced by Brazilian midfielder Emerson and Argentinean youngster Aldo Duscher. The place had belonged to César Sampaio, but the Brazilian left the club during the season because of personal reasons. It was evident that Deportivo needed a quality midfielder for its squad, preferably being Spanish as recent history had shown with the signings of Molina, Capdevila, Valerón and Diego Tristán.

Of course, there was competition for his signature. FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia, Betis Sevilla and Villarreal were mentioned. His buy-out clause was of around 25 million Euros, and Deportivo could have tried to lower that price by offering either Capdevila or Walter Pandiani. But because Sergio’s contract only was running out until 2004 it was clear that Espanyol had a good position to negotiate, and they wanted 13 million Euros plus both mentioned players. Later, the name of ‘Turu’ Flores was related to the deal but neither this possibility was materialized. When negotiations between Espanyol and Deportivo didn’t lead to a deal, Sergio himself said at the end of July 2001 that he would stay for another season at the Catalan side. But suddenly a deal was struck between both parties at 2.800 million pesetas -somewhere around 17 million Euros- A big amount for a Spanish player those years as only Mendieta, Gerard, José Mari and Farinós had been more expensive. Deportivo had paid the same amount for Diego Tristán one year earlier, and both players are still the most expensive players of Deportivo until today. It still took two weeks before Sergio and Deportivo agreed on his contract tough. It seems that Sergio aimed at a salary which would break Deportivo’s salary structure and there also was a difference surrounding the length of the contract: Deportivo wanted eight years and Sergio only five years. In the end the deal was done and Sergio signed 8-year-contract running until 2009, the deal also had an option to extend it for an additional season.

2001-2005 | SERGIO RARELY MISSES A MATCH
Sergio was delighted with his arrival at Deportivo. "I'll always keep Espanyol in my heart. They made me who I am now, as a person and as a footballer. Espanyol were my second home for eight years. But I'm very happy to sign for Deportivo. On the pitch, at Espanyol we most of the time reacted according to the other team. At Deportivo there's another mentality. Here they want to control the match." he said. It was a logical step to move to a Champions League playing team and Sergio, who had prepared the new season at his former club Espanyol, was given some minutes during the 1-0 win over Udinese in the annual match for the Juan Acuña trophy and quickly started to have an impact at the club. Only goalkeeper Molina and playmaker Valerán would reach more Primera minutes during the season 2001/2002, but Sergio was the one who didn’t miss a single Primera match. He started the first four of them as a substitute, but after his late winning goal at Alavés (2-3, Sergio replaced Valerón) he earned his first starting place. Sergio was also being picked for the Spanish team that season and was accompanied by several colleagues of Deportivo, something which kept his chances of playing the World Cup 2002 intact.

His place in the team was rarely threatened, although he was left out of the team which beat Arsenal FC at the Riazor (2-0). "It's clear that nobody likes to be rested. When I signed for Deportivo I knew that it would be difficult to get a place in the team. I had the luck to just have missed one match. But now I have to work even harder to see the coach counting on me again", Sergio said at the time. Neither Sergio escaped the famous rotation policy of Irureta, without a doubt the most successful coach of Deportivo ever. That policy worked out, as Depor was at the top spots in Spain all-season long, even impressing in Europe by beating Manchester United twice (including the 2-3 win at Old Trafford with a goal of Sergio), and achieving two 2-0 wins against Wenger’s Arsenal and by denying Juventus FC from scoring twice. But not everything was happiness, because November, December and January were very difficult months. Deportivo lost 3-0 in Germany against Bayer Leverkusen and eliminated both Cultural Leonesa and Valladolid from the Copa Del Rey with only a minimal margin. In the Liga there were heavy defeats at Real Mallorca (4-1), Real Madrid (3-1) and Real Valladolid (3-0) and as a consequence, Deportivo were seventh in mid-January 2002.

Not even Sergio escaped the critics; and despite his numbers he didn’t reach a spectacular form in his first season at the club. But he was an important figure in a team which had form like a rollercoaster, which influenced the players. Sergio got some personal appraisal, as it was the Catalan midfielder who cheered up defender Héctor after a mistake of the defender had cost Deportivo the match at Bilbao (1-1). At the time Héctor said that, “Sergio is a great player and a great person too. No doubt about that”. In February, Sergio scored the second Liga goal of his career against FC Barcelona at the Nou Camp. Some weeks earlier, Deportivo had qualified for the Copa Del Rey final by beating little Figueres with a narrow margin, but impressed Europe by taking four points against Juventus including an astonishing display at the Riazor. In L Liga the title chances were kept intact (leaders Valencia were at three points) when the Copa Del Rey final at Real Madrid was to be played.

Not many gave Deportivo a chance, because of the circumstances: Real Madrid had been aiming the Copa Del Rey title all season long, not only because the final being in their stadium on their 100th birthday, but also because their last Copa win was from 1993. Besides, Real Madrid (especially Zidane) had displayed great form two months earlier against Deportivo at the Bernabéu. But Sergio indicated that “I want to repeat the win I achieved with Espanyol in 2000. I have great memories of that season and it was magnificent for Espanyol”. Back then, Sergio scored Espanyol’s second goal during a 2-1 win against Atlético de Madrid, which gave the Catalans a great birthday gift after 100 years of existence. Real Madrid was thinking about the same festivities, but Sergio’s goal after only six minutes gave him another entry in the history books. The match was eventually won 1-2 by Deportivo, and the key according to Sergio was that “Deportivo was going for it since the start. And we had the luck to score an early goal. After it we played a sensational first half against Real Madrid, who appeared knocked down. In the second half things changed a bit after the goal of Raúl. We suffered more, especially in the last 30 minutes. But it's normal that one has to suffer in a final. We did it against a rival, which never gave up”. Asked about his goal, Sergio said that "every player dreams of taking part of a match like this one, and of course of scoring a goal. I had the luck to do both things".

Deportivo had great form and Sergio was a key player. The Copa del Rey was won and six days after the win at the Bernabéu there was another impressive display of the team at Arsenal’s Highbury (0-2) which qualified Deportivo for the Champions League third round for the second time in a row. But April 2002 proved to be fatal for the other targets. Manchester United didn’t let itself get fooled twice and eliminated Deportivo, fully deserved, from Europe. In Spain, the Galicians started the away match at Valencia with only a two-point disadvantage but lost 1-0 due to Duscher’s own goal. Nevertheless, the team scored eight goals in the remaining three matches and took seven points which made the team finish second in Spain. On a personal level, Sergio was satisfied too. He had conquered a starting-place in a team, which not only was one of the best in Spain, but also had impressed Europe with fine football. “Everything I could have asked for is now becoming reality; I had to think a lot about my move on this summer, and it was a difficult decision. But after I picked Deportivo everything has been brilliant”, he said. And he had scored six goals in all competitions, including ones at Old Trafford, Nou Camp and the Bernabéu. Asked about this, Sergio replied: “It's true that I scored goals at the bigger stadiums, but it doesn’t matter if I score them or another player does. I'm a midfielder and not a goal scorer, but I should at least score some goals every season".

There was another great event on its way: the 2002 World Championships in South Korea and Japan. During the year, Sergio already had described the importance of the Spanish team for him. “When I’m called for the national team, I forget everything else. Here, there is no Champions League, no Liga, nothing of this kind. This is the national team, which in my view is just as important as the Champions League. One must realize that you are defending the colours of the country and should give it all”. After having played for Spain on a regular basis during the season, 25-year old Sergio was picked for the participating Spanish squad together with Romero, Valerón and Diego Tristán. Manuel Pablo would have made it, but he suffered an awful injury at the start of the season. And Albert Luque was included too, who would join Deportivo some months later. According to Sergio he was “Living in a dream, but the best is yet to come”. Spain won all three games to progress to the round of sixteen and eliminated Ireland after the penalty shootout (although Valerón missed a penalty). But in the Quarter Finals against South Korea, Spain had to cope with two controversial decisions when goals of Baraja and Morientes were ruled out. But the team itself failed to impress against both Ireland and South Korea and refused to take too many risks. Overall, the impact of Deportivo’s players was limited despite their excellent season. Romero had two starting places and one entry and Diego Tristán suffered a major set-back in his career when, after having started the first two matches next to Raál, an injury made an end to his tournament. Sergio only came on as a substitute against South Africa when the group already was decided. Only Valerón was an important figure as he started all four matches when it mattered, and also scored a goal against Slovenia. Sergio commented on his World Cup experience: “It was great, as it was far from home, playing at the highest level with great team mates. It was my dream to play at a World Cup, but being there I would have loved to have played more. But I would be thrilled to have that experience again one day”.

Sergio wished for the season 2002/2003 “To achieve what we achieved last season, which was extraordinary”. On a personal level, Sergio explained that when arrived to Galicia he was a bit afraid of having left his home-town Barcelona. “But only on my birthday I had a little set-back. The players, as well as the people on the street, and the press too, make me feel at home”. During that summer, national coach Sáez looked at Sergio when he needed a replacement for injured Real Madrid player Iván Helguera. Deportivo, with Sergio, won the Spanish Supercopa by beating arch-rivals Valencia 4-0 on aggregate. The team added another page to its history book by beating Bayern Munich (2-3) in their own stadium when, especially Valerón and Roy Makaay, made a solid presentation. At this height of this career, playmaker Valerón was literally eliminated from the Valladolid match by defender Peña and suddenly the Galicians had to be without him for a month. Three days later, Irureta tried with Sergio on his spot against AC Milan at the Riazor. But that experiment, and the whole match, was a disaster: 0-4. Deportivo struggled until the end of the calendar year. Early December 2002, the team was at seven points of the first spot in the Liga. In Europe, the two (late) wins against Bayer Munich proved to be crucial and qualification for the next round was sealed at already-qualified AC Milan (1-2). In December, the team took six points from Málaga (1-0) and Valencia (0-1) but apparently was led by higher forces.

Sergio was always there. Next to Roy Makaay he was the player with most Liga minutes that season and only missed one Liga match. In October 2002 he was related to a move to Italian giants Internazionale as part of a dealing taking Sergio Conceicao to Deportivo, but that deal was never materialized. Sergio, playing at the left, scored his first goal of the season against Celta at Riazor on January 4th 2003. It was Deportivo’s third consecutive victory and the team finally started to roll. Sergio added another goal during the Copa match at Alicante (1-1) three days later from a free-kick. Deportivo achieved a crucial Liga win on February 15th 2003 at Valladolid (0-1) and won another six out of seven matches in the weeks after. Liga Statistics in February indicated that the tandem Mauro Silva/Sergio was very effective at Primera División. Mauro Silva was the most effective ball-winner in the Liga (winning seven out of every ten efforts) and Sergio, next to three other players including Víctor Sánchez, was most effective in giving goal-assists. It led to compliments being exchanged between the two players. Mauro Silva said that "Sergio and I complement each other very well. I pay attention at the back and he is a better passer and is very fast”. Sergio mentioned that he played next to the best possible teacher in the world concerning defensive work. "Playing next to Mauro gives you much security. You know that if you can't make it on time, he always appears. He is one of the best at these tasks and at his side I have improved my defending a lot". Sergio was used in all mid-field spots during the season 2002/2003, including both wings. “And on those positions I felt better than I had hoped for. Everyone has his own position, but if the team needs me in another position there's nothing I can do. If a coach uses me on different positions it also means that he thinks I can adapt myself well and that makes me proud. Personally I think that the role of right winger suits me better as the one as attacking midfielder”.

In March 2003, Deportivo suffered elimination from the Copa Del Rey (against Mallorca) and Champions League (against Juventus) within seven days, but this season the options to win the Liga title started to look brilliant. On April 13th 2003, Sergio scored for the second consecutive year at Barcelona’s Nou Camp when the Galicians gave a display of force: 2-4. Sergio set up a goal for Roy Makaay, and called it “A special night, especially because I hadn’t won before at the Nou Camp, and my family was at the stands”. It was a great match of Sergio, something he needed. “I needed a match like this one, especially for the goal I scored. People can ask to see me scoring more goals than the ones I have scored on this season. But overall I think my performances have been good season and I am proud of my season so far. But this year I don't have much luck in front of the goal. I haven't forgotten about scoring goals and I think that I deserved a match like this one”.

Sergio himself was related to Italian clubs Juventus and Milan those months. Despite a lot of negativism in the first months of the season, all surrounding Deportivo was now talking of the title. Sergio said that “I always expected things to go better near the end of the season. Sometimes journalists asked me whether we were going to qualify for the UEFA Cup, exaggerated questions I think. In La Coruña people suddenly swift from a negative to a positive attitude. Sometimes there's nothing in between. Maybe it’s because we have been for years among the best teams and people expect much of us. And therefore don't want something mediocre. Being a moderate team doesn't attract attention: everything is bad or excellent. But we haven't even reached our best level yet, like last season at Arsenal, at home to Juventus or the epic Copa final against Real Madrid. These were fantastic matches and we're working hard to repeat this2. The team conquered first spot in Spain after beating Málaga (0-2) with five matches remaining, but couldn¡t cope with the pressure during the next home match against Valencia (1-2). Sergio commented on that defeat: “It hurts to lose in this way because we fought for it. And after their first goal the only Valencia players not defending were their bench players. They only wanted to defend and had luck behind them”. Still, the belief of the players had disappeared and two out of the next three matches were lost too. Deportivo finished the season at third place at six points of champions Real Madrid.

In the summer there were rumours about Sergio returning to Espanyol (and selling him to Real Madrid), because of a contract stipulation, all of this because the Galicians weren’t fulfilling the payments agreed with the Catalan side. In the end it didn’t happen, but it was another indication of the difficult financial position the club was getting into. And the signing of “big players” became scarcer. The positions at the centre of midfield were well-covered with Mauro Silva, Sergio and Duscher in that ranking-order. Emerson had been the fourth during the season 2001/2002 after losing his place to Sergio, and 2002-signing ‘Toro’ Acuña had replaced the Brazilian. But there hadn’t been real threats to Sergio, and it would be the same in the two final seasons under Javier Irureta. Deportivo qualified for the Champions League that summer by beating Rosenborg in pre-round matches. The decisive goal at the Riazor, after the 0-0 draw in Norway, was scored by Luque after a pass by Sergio. The group phase with AEK Athens, PSV Eindhoven and AS Monaco was survived on experience, but the 8-3 beating in Monaco wasn’t forgotten quickly. In La Liga, the team was very regular after a perfect start and third place (at six points of leaders Real Madrid) was occupied when the year 2004 started. In those matches, Sergio’s goal mark was at three thanks to goals against PSV Eindhoven (a deflected free-kick), Atlético de Madrid and against FC Barcelona at the Nou Camp. The 0-2 win on October 18th 2003 was another display of Deportivo’s experience against Rijkaard’s team (with Ronaldinho), which almost clinch the Liga title at the end of the season and already showed indications of greatness. It was the third consecutive goal of Sergio at the Nou Camp.

But, as usual, much (more) was expected of Deportivo and Sergio was one of the players specifically mentioned. Deportivo was big in Spain for five consecutive years and played their fourth consecutive Champions League campaign. Sergio pointed to the solidness of Deportivo and, as before, hoped that the future would bring more bright football. “We can’t deny that we’re passing through a great moment, and it’s now when we must enjoy the things, but our best moment hasn’t arrived yet. We’re a solid and compact team and that must be our way to continue. What we’re living through is great although it’s not definitive. Maybe our game at the moment isn’t at the level we should be offering, although playing well is not the solution to all. There are more things at which we have improved and that’s why we have won many matches. Anyway, we will improve our game from now on”. The fact was that his more anonymous role in the team had as consequence that he wasn’t picked for the Spanish team anymore, although he had been part of the team between the years 2001 and 2003. Sergio said that, “I am doing all I can to get back into the Spanish team. But I am realistic enough to see that my possibilities at the moment are small”.

In December 2003 he reached the mark of 200 Primera matches added at Espanyol and Deportivo, and it was time to make up the balance of 2,5 years at the club. Sergio called the 200-number a quite considerable figure and was asked about how he had adapted in La Coruña: “It’s a different city than Barcelona, where I was formed and where I made my debut. It’s where all my friends are: De Lucas, Capdevila and Tamudo. But I’ve settled in La Coruña and it’s the city that has given me a permanent spot at Primera División”. Players of Deportivo that had impressed him during those years were Fran, Diego Tristán, Valerón and Mauro Silva “because of their qualities. But Espanyol-colleague Galca really taught me the good and bad things of football”. As opponent he picked Fernando Redondo as “I always ended up those games totally elbowed. Rivaldo was also very difficult to stop”. His big dream though, and one of the reasons why he signed at Deportivo, was to win the Liga. “I won’t rest until I have achieved that”, he said. But domestically, the winter months proved to be fatal. First, Atlético eliminated Deportivo from the Copa Del Rey on away goals. And at the end of February, a resurrected Barcelona took a 0-3 lead in Riazor and ended up winning 2-3. A crucial match was lost and Liga leaders Real Madrid were now nine points away. Two defeats later (3-0 at Valencia and 4-2 at Mallorca) made the case clear: Deportivo wasn’t going to win a domestic prize this season.

But the season 2003/2004 was the one of Deportivo’s finest moment in Europe. After the group phase, Deportivo beat Juventus twice (2-0 on aggregate) and achieved one of the most impressive come-backs ever by beating AC Milan at the Riazor (4-0) after the first match was lost (4-1, with all three Mauro Silva, Sergio and Duscher playing). But the team was unable to score a single goal against Mourinho’s FC Porto in the Semi-Finals and lost a unique opportunity for glory. Deportivo simply wasn’t good enough during those matches, but the performance of referee Pierluiggi Collina at the Riazor certainly didn’t help. Sergio said about this: "It might be that he's considered the best referee around. But let's hope he never will lead another match of Deportivo. Now he has led two matches of us (the other was at PSV Eindhoven), and in neither of them he did a good job. I don't like his way of leading matches". But Sergio ended by saying that "He wasn't the only reason why we lost this round" No prize for Sergio that season, and he even lost his starting place for a few weeks thanks to Iruretaâ0s variations with using Fran and Valerón. But Sergio called Fran “A great player whos above most of the others. He always would play if I was the coach”. He joked by adding that “I would also use myself on all occasions”. But Sergio quickly returned to the team and only Jorge Andrade and Molina ended up playing more at Primera. In fact, Sergio only missed two Liga matches during his first three seasons at Deportivo and he played 54 of the 56 official games during the season 2003/2004. But for Spain his total of matches remained ten and he wasn’t even considered by national coach Sáez for the Euro 2004 tournament in Spain. Players like Baraja and Albelda proved to be too much of a competition to the Catalan. It disappointed him: “I played the 2002 World Cup and hoped that for the Euro 2004, I would become an established member of the squad. It didn't happen, so from now on I will have to convince (new Spain coach) Luis Aragonés”.

More difficult years had arrived for Deportivo and Sergio. He was optimistic for the 2004/2005 season “because Deportivo have a strong squad, ready to face any opponent in the Liga or in Europe. And the Greek victory at Euro 2004 shows that in modern football ones has to need a solid framework to achieve results”. That framework still existed, but the motivation seemed to have disappeared from the squad. Irureta was going to start his seventh season at the club, which in the end proved not to be the best solution for getting a new dynamic, and players like Mauro Silva (36) and Fran (35) couldn’t bring anymore what they brought before. Refreshments stayed out, despite a summer full of rumours (and Sergio hinting at the signings of Zagorakis of Maniche). The atmosphere at the club was influenced by actions like the club publishing Fran’s contract on the internet in a public row. Sergio summed up what most people related to Deportivo will have shared with him. “I don’t want to get involved in all his. But I don’t like the way both parties have handled the case. This could have been solved in a much more light way”. Early September, Luque and Pandiani had a fight during a training session. Sergio said somewhat jokingly that “It wasn’t a nice thing, but it’s interesting and great to see that there’s intensity during the training sessions”.

For this season, Deportivo gambled on another trick of this solid squad, which only had been strengthened with the arrival of Munúa, Songo’o, Pedro Munitis, Rubén and Momo during the past two years. This team needed 150 minutes of football when they scored their first goal against little Shelbourne in the Champions League pre-round. It was scored by Víctor Sánchez after Sergio’s pass. The 3-0 win, after a 0-0 draw in the first match, qualified Deportivo for the Champions League group phase. But the effective combination of this squad and coach Irureta was over. Deportivo didn’t score a single goal against AS Monaco, Liverpool (Sergio missed the Anfield Road match because of a suspension) and Olympiakos Piraeus in six matches. The team was out from the Copa Del Rey in November because of little Elche. And a 1-5 home beating against Valencia indicated that it would become a troubled Liga season too. As usual, Sergio was a fundamental part of the team that season and only Valerón and Jorge Andrade played more Liga minutes. But the team was too ineffective upfront and also the ‘magic’ was gone. It could have been a consequence of Sergio having to lead midfield now that Mauro Silva was quitting his career. The Brazilian was only used rarely and neither Duscher, nor Scaloni nor youngster Pita accompanied Sergio in midfield. Maybe 28-year old Sergio was used to live under Mauro Silva’s shadow. In the attacking part he was accompanied by players like Fran, Valerón, Luque and Víctor Sánchez. Now the combination of Valerón and Sergio seemed to lack strength and determination. Sergio even was sent-off during a Copa match at little Cerceda, his first since joining Deportivo in 2001. There was irritation at the team, and both Molina and Sergio were asked by the coaching staff to explain some criticism they had ousted in the press. Sergio missed several matches because of a knee injury, something unknown to him, and recovered in Barcelona. The good news was that since December 12th 2004, Sergio didn’t miss a single Liga minute.

But this Deportivo team was as a ship without a captain. On January 16th 2005, the home match against Numancia finished 1-1 and Deportivo were twelfth in the table at a distance of ten points from the Champions League spots, with the title being light years away. Sergio was particularly critical: “We’ve lost our reputation as a team with a solid defence”. A 4-1 win against Sergio’s beloved-team Espanyol could have indicated the return of Deportivo’s best days, but that wasn0t to be. It was probably just a last breath of a team revived by Pandiani’s harsh words in the press which forced him out of the club. It’s not that the team was just bad that season, because not that many matches were lost. But the ineffectiveness caused too many points to be lost unnecessary. Added to this was that the solidness at the back zone was gone. The team needed a late Sergio goal in the week after the Espanyol-win to save a point at Osasuna. But the results were too irregular. This team desperately needed a confidence-boost, and this could have been the matches against Real Madrid, Getafe, Málaga and Albacete when ten points were taken. But with UEFA Cup football at just one point, the team lost grip and finally slipped away. Again, FC Barcelona destroyed hopes at the Riazor (0-1) and Deportivo struggled to the end of the season. Like his colleagues, Sergio suffered from an ineffective season and according to Irureta he lacked enough defensive effort. Also, one could clearly see that his long-distance efforts weren’t precise enough. But there also were numerous examples of Sergio standing up, like when he scored the late equalizer at Osasuna.

PAGE 2

SQUAD HOME PAGE