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So where did it all go so wrong for Malaga this year?

  • A multitude of factors contributed to Malaga's worst league performance in a decade

This summer started in much the same way as the previous one: frustration in the ranks as delays held up recruitment and planning for the season ahead.

Lines of communication between sporting director Francesc Arnau and owner Sheikh Al-Thani had broken down. As had been the case with Juande Ramos the season before, noises started emerging out of La Rosaleda that head coach Míchel was growing frustrated with the increasing delays which allowed transfer targets to escape the net.

While the sheikh's observance of Ramadan was the official line, the truth was that the sheikh had lost trust in Arnau and wasn't willing to sanction deals. The result was that experienced former Manchester City midfielder Javi García ended up at rivals Real Betis despite having agreed personal terms, while the move for promising defender José Meré also fell through at the last minute, despite Malaga activating the buy-out clause weeks before. The club's hesitation saw German side Köln swoop in and beat them to his signature.

Key departures

Having lost Ignacio Camacho to Wolfburg, Malaga could ill-afford to lose another midfielder. However, the club's worst nightmare came to pass when Pablo Fornals stated his desire to move on and Villarreal activated his buy-out clause - a measly 12 million euros. To rub salt into the wounds, a new contract, with a significantly higher release clause which reflected his market value, had already been agreed, only for Al-Thani to veto it.

With both key men out the door and García's move cancelled, panic ensued when it came to drafting in replacements. After Arnau signed the unknown Emanuel Cecchini for close to four million euros, Al-Thani himself took personal control and signed another unknown entity, Esteban Rolón, from the Argentinian second division.

With the season about to start and it had already been decided that both were sub-standard, Zdravko Kuzmanovic, who had been injured for much of the previous season, was resigned. Between them, Kuzmanovic, Rolón and Cecchini have made less than ten appearances this year.

A chaotic January

After a disastrous run of 11 points from nineteen games, incoming (and returning) sporting director Mario Husillos decided to sack Míchel and replace him with former Granada manager José González.

This uninspiring choice, as well as some scattergun recruitment left the new man needing not only to pick up points, but to bed in eight new players, many of whom were seriously lacking in fitness and therefore unable to contribute anything until much too late.

Goal scoring had been a major issue before González came in with major summer signing, Borja Bastón, the only recognised forward, injured for large parts of the season. Husillos' recruitment of Brown Ideye, Maxime Lestienne, Samuel García and Isaac Success aimed to remedy this but delivered very little, with the forwards having returned from long spells of inactivity and in need of intensive fitness training.

In midfield, muchof the work since January has been left down to veterans Manuel Iturra and Mehdi Lacen, both pushing 34, also January signings. This overall lack of fitness in the squad showed time and time again with the concession of late goals, especially against direct rivals (Deportivo, Las Palmas, Levante...) costing them dear and creating another planning dilemma with regards to life in Segunda.