Thankfully for the Periquitos, they have got 19 points from the last 13 games One season ticket holder says: “Rubi seems to have no plan B”
My two previous columns on Espanyol this season have provided evidence of a starkly contrasting first season under head coach Joan Francesc Ferrer Sicilia, aka Rubi. The first effused optimism after a start to the season that had left Espanyol 3rd in La Liga with 17 points from nine games after five wins and two draws from their opening fixtures. The intervening three months until our February column could hardly have been worse, however, seeing them drop to 15th position following a disastrous run of nine defeats in 12 league games and bottom of the first division’s form table for that period, meaning that relegation was not out of the question. Thankfully for the Periquitos, they have picked up 19 points from the last 13 games, leaving them seventh in the form table since the end of January, and taking them back up to 10th after four wins, seven draws and only two defeats in that period. Those defeats came against two top four teams, at home to Sevilla (1-0) and away at Barça (2-0), while the draws were at home to Huesca, Getafe and Celta (all 1-1) and away at Villarreal (2-2), Valencia (0-0), Athletic and Levante (both 1-1), the wins coming against Rayo (2-1), Valladolid (3-1) and Alavés (2-1) at home and Girona (2-1) away. That little run has yielded 17 goals for and 15 against, the tighter defence reaping rewards, just as Rubi claimed it would during their lean spell mid-season.
Now that our old Periquito friend Mark McCourt has headed Stateside and can no longer give us the fans’ view, we turn to two more Espanyol season ticket holders to give us some insight on how they feel Rubi’s first season in charge has gone. First, Miguel van der Wijst, who before commenting on the football itself, has some complaints about the club’s policies, citing “a rise in the price of season tickets and bizarre ticket pricing for games” as the reasons for poor attendances. Also, “fan culture and atmosphere have been repressed with harsh punishments for minor insults and setting off flares.” On the field, Miguel says “Rubi seems to have no plan B”. In addition, other elements of being an Espanyol fan cause further discontent, such as “Away matches in Spain are a pain due to only knowing when you play three weeks in advance”, which makes buying tickets for travel more expensive, and to add to all that “VAR is only being used selectively”. Finally, he reserves a complaint for the fact that “No away fans are now allowed at the derby games”; all in all, one dissatisfied fan this season.
Another season ticket holder and regular attendee is Asad Shaikh, who agrees with Miguel on Rubi: “I would say no plan B is a major point, we started the season very well but it seems that as soon as teams worked out how to beat us, he didn’t know what to do. He is another Flores in that sense.”
Safe on 43 points, Espanyol have four games left this season, the visit of Diego Simeone’s Atlético on May 4 being the pick of the bunch.