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A LOOK AT LA LIGA

Rising from the ashes

Recent form has got fans believing again.
Recent form has got fans believing again. / IDEAL
  • Granada CF were in a mess when Tony Adams took over as manager in April 2017; now their model is one to aspire to

The only time Granada CF made any international impact was when Tony Adams did a 'David Brent' style dance on the training field and it went viral.

That was when the Andalusian club was at its lowest ebb; Adams was a laughing stock and David Brent would probably have got a game at centre-half in the relegation-bound team.

It has been an amazing turnaround as the club returned to La Liga and sits second in the table going into the eighth round of the season having beaten Barcelona and Sevilla.

The Adams appointment smacked of 'Chinese billionaire meets football legend in an airport lounge and hires him to manage one of his many sporting enterprises'. It looked like a marriage of convenience?

If you ignore the unfortunate training ground histrionics and study what the former England international promised back in 2017, you'll discover that he's kept his undertaking.

"The owner is aware that he's made many mistakes but it's a long-term project. We want to give the club back to the fans," pledged Adams shortly after his surprise unveiling.

I don't rub shoulders with many global businessmen but an associate of mine and Jiang Lizhang asked what he'd bought for a controlling stake of 37 million euros. "An absolute mess" was my answer.

The previous owners, the Pozzo family, had 'parked' players from all over the world at the modest club. Granada had the distinction of naming a team of eleven different nationalities just before their relegation. It was like an international school, an unruly one, with young footballers on a gap year. The squad was made up of seventeen different nationalities with a non-Spanish speaking English manager.

Adams moved on from management to adviser and it appears that his boss listened. They appointed Diego Martínez, a young coach, and replaced the short-stay players with more reliable Spanish talent. The soul returned to the club and they were promoted last summer.

Nobody saw the impact they would have on their return to the top flight - especially after the final pre-season game ended with a 0-3 defeat at Millwall.

Martínez says he won't look at the table, but he should have a sneaky peak while they are still ahead of Barcelona and Atlético Madrid and take a screenshot.

He's assembled a side with a desire to play at the highest level. The average age is twenty-seven which suggests that he isn't risking youngsters nor carrying any veterans. The only player the average fan will have heard of is Roberto Soldado, once of Tottenham. He's returned to southern Spain from his international travels, latterly Fenerbahce, to see out the autumn days of his career.

Only six million euros was invested on seven transfers and four loans upon the elevation in the summer. That will soon be recovered by the healthy crowds who pack Los Cármenes to see the revelation club of the season.

Adams described his seven-game losing streak by saying: "It's like holding the hand of a dying man." Dr Adams may well have departed Granada but his diagnosis was correct; major surgery was carried out and Granada CF are alive, kicking and seizing every match-day.