O plan? Collemos Vigo.

O plan? Collemos Vigo.

This single sentence caused a stir after James Sedor’s presentation to the media. As well it might, given the differences in league between the two most prominent Galician sides. There were plenty of mocking and scathing headlines in the Vigo-leaning sports media in the region, with a lot of people quick to point out the only Vigo side Deportivo would be playing was the B Squad. Before this statement, which was fired back at the media without any hint of levity and full of sincerity, had followed the usual media-trained pattern. There was even gentle amusement as Deportivo had hired a Galician/Scottish manager and had a Galician/Scottish Goalkeeper. There was a lot of focus on the link between Chelsea Manager, Graham Potter and James Sedor. A lot of the media and PR around the move was have Depor got the next Potter? This was heightened when it was leaked that Potter had recommended Sedor for the role, which was something the new Chelsea boss was quick to confirm, whilst surprised to be asked prior to his sides opening Premier League match. 

Antonio Sanz, a prominent Deportivo fan/commentator, outlines what he and other fans thought about Sedor’s first impression(s).

“I liked the sentiment. It’s what fans want to hear ‘oh we want to beat our rivals’ but it didn’t seem the smartest thing to say. A lot of fans thought it made us easy targets for mockery. Obviously, there’s nothing we can do about it and Vigo were two divisions above us. We had no comeback to them, a lot of fans thought it misguided but plenty of us liked the idea”.

Antonio and a few others who make up the “Azul Herculinos” fan media team, followed Depor throughout their pre-season. 

“Sedor always spoke well, even from the start in the media. He explained that he had been brought on his own and was keeping the previous staff, and, that the transfer business has been completed prior to his arrival. He also spoke about his ideas on football, possession but not needless possession. He was keen to work with players who wanted to play for Depor and would promote from within the club. We had heard this all before, so not many of us held it as important”. 

Depor’s preseason was a positive one, with 5 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss, a win against La Liga 2 Malaga, a draw against Sporting Gijon from La Liga and a narrow loss against Ligue 1 Brest, provided fans with some optimism. Those in attendance, like Antonio, were reporting back to fans about the high amount of possession and tactical style emerging. 

“I think we worked out we averaged 65% possession over pre-season, we did play against some weaker sides within that pre-season however. There had been a closed-door match against a second XI which apparently saw a 5-2-3 formation, but we started with a 4-4-2. We did try some variations on a 5-2-3 but they resulted in our draws and loss, the 4-4-2 had a perfect record. Other media or fans not attending the games, however, just saw a British manager playing 4-4-2 and decided they knew how it was going to be”. He paused, “What’s the term?… ah yeah, Brexit ball”. 

Sedor was forced into an early display of his man-management, within his first weeks in the job two of his expected starting centrebacks announced they wanted to leave the side. Adrian Lapena, informed Sedor that he was happy to see out his contract and therefore the season however Borja Granero was not convinced when offered a similar option to continue his role in the side for this season. Granero was immediately exiled to the Fabril squad after pre-season, whereas Lapena continued his role within the first team. With Sedor quick to explain;

“Both players have been honest with me and the club, which I’m happy they felt able to do. However, I felt that Adrian and I were able to discuss and come to a plan which suits both parties. Borja and his agent felt differently and therefore I’ve had to put the collective team first, Borja is doing what he feels is right for him and we’ll try our best to support that. It’s not personal and we have a professional standard to keep and a duty to not stand in his way. If lads don’t want to play here, they won’t play here, it’s not a difficult equation but, I’d have preferred a different answer”. Sedor added once the Transfer Window had closed “Both Borja and ourselves tried to find a move that worked for all parties, we were unable to do so. Borja remains a professional and understands his situation, he won’t play with the first team this season and will work with our Fabril squad”.

Sedors opening competitive match was at home in the Riazor, pre-match he personified calm, but he was keen to highlight his fandom for the club. Saying “I couldn’t watch the team in person as much as I wanted but I always felt at home in the stands. I want to make sure I feel at home on the sideline now”. The result, against one of the league’s weaker squads, was one to forget a 1-1 draw against newly promoted Merida. However, the Deporvistas saw their side take 22 shots with 10 on target. They left feeling frustrated at the dropped points, some anxious about another season of missed opportunities but most optimistic. 

That optimism was certainly well placed, the side won the next 9 games before falling to defeat against Linares. The side have only lost a further 2 matches at the time of writing and sits just ahead of Castilla on top of the Primera Federacion Grupo 1. Depor lead the league in metrics such as average possession, passes completed, final 1/3rd passes and goals scored. They are trailing Castilla on chances created and xG, with the young Madrid side failing to take their chances, whilst the Galician side have performed with efficiency and maximising their points.

As Antonio and his loyal pre-season fans were suggesting, has proven to be correct. This is not a side playing “British football” which is the stereotype which still prevails, however in fact they are a side with echoes of Graham Potters Ostersund’s side. The Swedish team often deployed variations of a 4-4-2, when we examine the average positions within a chosen match, we can see in possession (Blue) the side could arguably play a 3-3-4 and out of possession (Red) a 4-3-3.

The key performers for Deportivo could argue to be Lapena, Quiles and Peke, so far. Lapena, as outlined above has stated he may leave the Riazor at the end of the season and is doing his chances of a move no harm. Regularly achieving over 100 passes during a full 90 minutes, solid under the high ball and stopping opposition with consistent interceptions. 

Quiles has been deployed as the sides main striker and he has proven to be a lethal goalscorer with 18 goals in 19 matches. His goals have been vital in ensuring his side sit-a-top of the league at the halfway mark. Peke is the player who has provided the greatest excitement from the fans, as a Fabril product, the winger has been used as the wide left midfielder this year and provided 6 assists and 4 goals so far. Able to provide key passes, a shooting threat and dribbling the youngster has been able to step up since his promotion to the senior side last season.

These players have been vital in Depors performances and results this season. Depor does sit top of the league heading into the winter break. However, some of the statistics suggest that Castilla who sits second can feel aggrieved at this stage. The young Madrid side is possibly lacking the experience of a Quiles-type forward, who has the experience to pull upon and lead the side. Sedors Deportivo side has an average squad age of 26 years old compared to the 19 years old Castilla side. Sedor won’t be complaining, however, as he heads into the winter break leading the title favourites in first place.

James looked up from his laptop, “I really need to stop reading articles about me, but I guess it’s better than looking at Twitter”. James looked around his flat, still filled with boxes from his move except for his bed and desk which had been set up. Beyond that, he was yet to complete his move. “I’ll do it over Christmas,” he told himself, almost convincingly this time. He looked at the clock 00:38, “Time for an early night”. James closed down the laptop, sank his current Laphroaig glass before filling up his glass again and looked over at his bed, sighed and headed from his desk to his room. 

He lay down and took out his phone, a couple of unread emails took his attention. Carlos Rosende, the director of football, stated that Borja Granero’s transfer to Dijon had been completed, pending the opening of the transfer window. Jesus Seba and Salvator Aparisi had been trading teams messages on their latest scouting targets. “Let’s see what they’ve got” muttered James opening the links to both of the club’s scouting package and data collection hub. 

Now back at his desk, he could see the sunlight coming through his living room blinds before he’d finished his examination of players. There weren’t many he had found that he felt were attainable in the short term and whilst examining options against his current team, he felt a possible update could happen through a change in system, rather than drastic personnel changes. He felt content with his current system but he had wanted to use a full 3 at the back system, which had been put on hold due to results during pre-season and Graneros freezing out. 

He knew that his team could play the system, his philosophy would remain but the implementation would be adapted. He looked at the calendar and knew despite the mid-season break required for his squads’ happiness and recovery, this might be the time to try and fully implement his ideas. He looked at the same clock that had suggested bed some time ago and it read 06:15. He picked up his trusty whisky bottle and knew before he forlornly attempted a pour, it was empty. He immediately, moved on to his ideas for training schedules as he moved to his sofa with the intention of messaging his coaching team, before he could unlock the phone he had fallen asleep sprawled on his couch, phone in hand.

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