Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Meanwhile, over in Alicante. Part II

It's just like someone foisted upon the unfortunate Hercules coach, Esteban Vigo, the Spanish equivalent of a Manager of the Month prize, the award of which is almost invariably followed by a dip in form. Me, ever the conspiracy theorist, I have my own thoughts, which are; subconsciously football players get a bit pissed off with seeing the manager pick up a bottle of champagne and a silver salver for their efforts on the pitch and bring him down a peg or two by taking their foot off the gas. By the looks of things though, Hercules haven't just stepped off the accelerator they've jammed on the anchors too.

A few short weeks ago, they were sitting pretty at the top of the Segunda A pile with points in hand over Cartagena in fourth and a decent goal difference. Then they made the short journey, just twenty three kilometres, to hated rivals Elche, where, the wheels didn't just come off they were last seen bouncing down the N340 back to Alicante.  Way back in October, Hercules easily disposed of their near neighbours in the first derby of the season, a result that ended the career of popular manager Claudio Barragan.  In the return match at the Martinez Valero in March, Elche gained revenge with a 2-0 victory, a result that set in train a string of setbacks for Hercules no-one connected with the club could have predicted.

Including the derby defeat, Hercules have managed to collect just two points in seven games from a pair of scruffy draw(er)s, never was the description "pants" more appropriate. The five defeats in the same period, three of which took place at home, were, with the exception of a 0-1 reverse to Real Sociedad, all against struggling sides. Confidence appears to have evaporated, just like their previously dominant league position. Now, as the end of April approaches, Herc' find themselves fourth in the classification with a mountain to climb. Worse still, hated rivals Elche, are creeping up on the blindside and the way the two outfits are playing the possibility of them passing each other heading in opposite directions is quite likely.

Still to come Hercules have nine games in which turn turn things around and get their campaign back on track, the stand out fixtures include visits to Cartagena and Levante, the teams directly above them and occupying the final promotion places behind champions elect Real Sociedad. Two spots and a couple of points worse off sit Elche, in terrific form and full of confidence, two crucial things presently missing from the Hercules arsenal. The Alicantinos seem to have got themselves into the kind of rut where it matters not who they play, before Christmas the mindset was "right, playing so and so today, we should piss this" and they would. Now they take to the pitch desperate to avoid defeat and delighted with a point, last Sunday was a typical example, a scrabbled one-one draw in Soria, the home of mid-table Numancia came courtesy of a second half own goal by midfielder Barkero.

Manager Vigo is good, one of the best in the division, what he now needs to do now is use his undoubted motivational skills to persuade his underperforming squad to believe the same about themselves. It's a tall order because most of the clubs in and around the top of the table promotion battle have already had their wobbly moments. One thing in his favour is games, twenty seven points are possible between now and the third week of June, with no play-offs only the top three make the cut, so a minimum of twenty four points and no defeats is the ask. Achieve that Sr.Vigo and you're welcome to a shiny dish and the bubbly.

Top - Phil Brown was eventually sacked by Hull City
Second - Hercules still face a tough visit to Cartagena who they beat in January
Third - Barkero (17) kindly obliged for Herc' with an own goal recently
Bottom - Esteban Vigo chats with his Las Palmas opposite number, Croatian Sergio Kresic, before their game a month ago

No comments:

Post a Comment