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Adiós to the best decade in Malaga's history

A run to the quarterfinals of the Champions League was the highlight of the decade.
A run to the quarterfinals of the Champions League was the highlight of the decade. / SUR
  • We take a look back at the club's longest period in the top flight, which included its two best ever campaigns between 2011 and 2013

Malaga fans have never had it so good. Ten years in the top flight is the best in the club's history and yet it is little consolation now that fans have trips to Lugo and Valladolid to look forward to, rather than the Bernabéu or the Camp Nou.

However, it is still worth looking back and remembering that the period which started in the 2008-09 season saw the club have its greatest ever squad, finish in its highest ever position (fourth) and narrowly miss out on the semifinals of the Champions League because of some horrendous refereeing decisions.

2008-09 season 8th (55 points)

Tapia's best season, a brush with Europe

Paradoxically, during a campaign in which the team didn't score until the fifth match day, the season ended with debates over whether this was the best Malaga side in history. It was certainly the best period for coach Antonio Tapia, in his second spell at the club. Striker Nabil Baha scored 10 goals, Apoño nine (seven from the penalty spot), and Albert Luque and Eliseu bagged seven each. Putting the latter on the right wing proved to be a stroke of genius and following a win in Getafe (1-2) on the 28th match day, Malaga were as high as fifth. However, the side took their foot off the gas for the final furlong and ended up finishing eighth, seven points off Europa League qualification. Unhappy with the lack of ambition of the club, Tapia resigned and Juan Ramón Muñiz took over.

2009-10 season 17th (37 points)

Last-gasp safety thanks to a goal from Duda

The only occasion in the whole decade when safety wasn't assured until the last day. During a season in which Muñiz blooded a lot of youngsters, two winless runs of 13 and 11 games left Malaga needing to avoid defeat on the final day to stay up. In their way was Real Madrid at La Rosaleda who could still have claimed the title. A goal from Duda put the Blue and Whites ahead before an equaliser from Rafael van der Vaart.

2010-11 season 11th (46 points)

Pellegrini gets the Al-Thani era under way

The start of the Al-Thani era got off to a chaotic start on the pitch as new coach, the veteran Portuguese Jesualdo Ferreira, failed to get to grips with the demands of Spanish football. Despite record investment and the signings of Sebastián Fernández and Salomón Rondón (who finished with 14 goals), the team only picked up seven points from the first 30 available. When Manuel Pellegrini took the helm in November he had a leaky defence to address as well as a lack of balance in the squad. The players took some time to buy into his methods but with the January signings of sergio Asenjo, Martín Demichelis, Enzo Maresca, Ignacio Camacho and Júlio Baptista (who scored nine in half a season) they were able to seal mathematical safety on the penultimate match day with a win in Bilbao (1-1). The 11th-place finish was deceptive; Malaga finished just three points above relegated Deportivo in 18th.

2011-12 season 4th (58 points)

The best campaign in the history of the club

Malaga sealed fourth spot and qualification for the Champions League with a final day win over Sporting Gijón (1-0). By this stage, recruitment had gone into overdrive with Malaga's typical eleven looking like this: Caballero; Jesús Gámez, Demichelis, Joris Mathijsen, Nacho Monreal; Santi Cazorla, Jérémy Toulalan, Isco, Eliseu; Joaquín (Rondón) and Ruud Van Nistelrooy. The team reached a record points total (58) and despite a lack of natural wingers, played with good balance and command of the ball.

2012-13 season 6th (57 points)

A notable sixth and a Champions League run

This campaign the side still had an exceptional squad in spite of the sales of Mathijsen, Rondón, Cazorla and Van Nistelrooy. What's more, their resources had to be spread on multiple fronts with a run to the quarterfinals in the Copa del Rey (where they lost a close-fought battle against Barcelona) and the Champions League where an offside goal for Borussia Dortmund eliminated the Costa side deep into stoppage time. Monreal left in January but in the league there were great memories such as Baptista's overhead kick against Getafe (1-0) and the nine goals scored by local boy Isco. Despite a sixth-place finish, the UEFA sanction prevented the club from playing in the Europa League the next year.

2013-14 season 11th (45 points)

Back to reality with Schuster at the helm

Bernd Schuster was the one entrusted with bringing Malaga back down to earth but the German didn't endear himself to the fans. After 25 games, the team was in 15th place, but a late push, and a tight defence, secured an 11th-place finish for a side which only scored 39 goals.

2014-15 season 9th (50 points)

A mixed first season for Javi Gracia

The surprising choice of Javi Gracia as the next head coach turned out to be massive success. He brought the best out of a limited squad which relied on the talents of youngsters Sergi Darder, Samuel and Samu Castillejo. The first half of the season was phenomenal with the side as high as sixth, but a poor second half left a bitter taste. Juanmi, who scored the winner in a 1-0 win at the Camp Nou, finished the season as top goalscorer with eight.

2015-16 season 8th (48 points)

An excellent showing despite limitations

Finishing eighth with such a limited squad ultimately saw Gracia poached from Malaga by Rubin Kazan. The team grossly overachieved even after the sale of Nordin Amrabat. The key to the success was the forward pairing of Charles and Duje Cop, with the former scoring a dozen in the league. The season was also marked by the emergence of Pablo Fornals.

2016-17 season 11th (46 points)

Míchel revives a team in freefall

Three coaches passed through the revolving door this year. Juande Ramos' second spell didn't go as planned and he resigned before Christmas. However, what cushion he had established over the relegation zone was quickly eroded when his assistant Marcelo Romero led the team to just five points in his ten games in charge. Míchel was brought in to steady the ship and turned the team's fortunes around, going on a run of seven wins from eight games close to the season's conclusion, bringing the best out of Javi Ontiveros, Recio and especially Sandro, who finished up with 14 goals.