Deportivo's drama has no end

The drama returned once again to Riazor, where Deportivo stayed on the brink of returning to professional football. The historic Galician team succumbed in extra time against Albacete, who were not worth the draw and won (1-2) in the face of the collective frustration of a crowd and a city dedicated to the team as in its best times, now further away than ever .

The ascent was as much about relief as it was about triumph. Deportivo, who had already dropped from the second tier of Spanish football in 1974 and 1980, had never spent two consecutive seasons in the third category. The experience was as hard as you could imagine for one of the nine league champions, but the passion was not lost along the way. Deportivo has more than 20,000 subscribers and Riazor hung up the sign that there are no tickets in the decisive duel to escape from the First RFEF.

The history of the club says that it was never easy for Deportivo to achieve its goals. The entity still carries 55 million euros of debt, but the feeling in A Coruña is that the backpack weighs less since Abanca, the bank born from the ashes of the Galician savings banks and controlled by the Venezuelan Juan Carlos Escotet, went from maximum creditor to owner. Along the way, the collective property distributed in small shareholdings was lost. It went down the drain with Fernando Vidal’s ambition to be president. Former director at the time of Tino Fernández, Vidal ended up leaving the team that he rescued and ordered Deportivo from the 160 million euros of debt. In December 2019, with Paco Zas, Fernández’s successor at the helm of a team at the bottom of the Second Division, he came up with a solution to invest one million euros in the winter market. The money was provided by Abanca, who would sign a participatory loan of 5 million to become, incidentally, the owner of the club.

The reinforcements hardly contributed to the team. Yes, Fernando Vázquez did, the chosen one of the new president to try to win over a sector of the fans. And the coach revived the team, but it was not enough: Deportivo fell amid the controversy generated on the last day that was not unified due to a massive contagion of covid in Fuenlabrada.

After his debut in Segunda B with an agonizing victory against Salamanca, Vázquez ate the next day with a couple of friends. “They will kick you out as soon as you lose two games,” one of them warned him. That was exactly what happened. Between Vidal and his sports director Richard Barral they had put together a veteran squad plagued by footballers with no experience in the category and a crazy salary cost. They also signed long-term contracts to players with negligible performance. So after nine days, Vázquez left to make way for Rubén de la Barrera, a coach from Coruña with a radically different script. Changing horses in the middle of the river meant chaining four games without winning and ruining the options of accessing the playoffs to reach the promotion playoff in an express championship. So Abanca showed the exit door first to Vidal and then to Barral. The fiasco cost the bank 12 million that it paid for through another loan that increased its participation in the entity.

An ERE to start the season

Deportivo is articulated today around a Board of Directors paid and chaired by Antonio Couceiro, a former politician and president of the local chamber of commerce who has no football background and, in reality, acts as a spokesman. The management is in the hands of a bank executive, David Villasuso, a guy who can walk around A Coruña without being recognized. The club, after several years of convulsions, appreciates a low profile that, however, does not tremble when making decisions: the season began with an ERE to liquidate the onerous legacy in the locker room and some long-term worker contracts. In sports, there were no precautions either and Carlos Rosende, who two years before had worked as a journalist, was entrusted with the squad and the choice of coach. Rosende, who has just turned 34, joined the club in the summer of 2019 to take charge of recruiting talent in grassroots football, but his rigor, passion, prudence, knowledge and freshness matched the new line he was looking for Villasuso.

A radically different plan to the one that had failed the previous year in A Coruña. Footballers arrived with boards in the category, young talent on loan to which were added the banners of the youth team that had just been champion of Spain. Several veterans survived the previous project (Héctor Hernández, Borja Granero, Miku or the eternal captain Álex Bergantiños). And on the bench, Borja Jiménez, 37 years old, without a past as a footballer, although he had already been promoted to Second Division with Mirandés and Cartagena, a guy with a strong character in the dugout, but who does not stop smiling at the wheels of press. Until a new ending tinged with pain came. There, where a League title and multiple continental feats were celebrated, where tough defeats were also chewed, Deportivo was left on the edge of a return that was expected and necessary, but for which we will have to wait at least one more year.

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