If you like La Liga but have no clubs to follow, here's why you should be a Malaguista............
When Sheik Nasser Al Thani bought Málaga for €36 million last summer, he spent about €20 million on new players which isnt a huge amount but significant by Spanish standards where, outside of Madrid and Barcelona, few clubs spent heavily. The team talked about building a power base in the south, but by the halfway stage of the season, it wasnt working. Jesualdo Ferreira, the coach, was sacked & Manuel Pellegrini brought in.
Then a series of acquisition began, starting with a new sporting director Antonio Fernandez who had been so successful at Sevilla and with Baptista as the star and Rondón scoring 12 league goals, Malaga moved into the top half of the table. A couple of weeks more & it might have claimed a European place. It had become a genuinely good side. Hope & interest had been rekindled and it made a real impact.
So far this summer, Malaga has spent €55 million on 9 players which is actually low if you look at the quality of these players - the likes of Toulalan, RVN, Baptista, Demichelis, Mathijsen, Joaquin etc who have proved their class at the top level & the likes of Buonanotte who I believe will be 'the Ozil of Malaga', Cazorla who his former teammates described as the 'White Ronaldinho', Rondon a Copa America semi finalist, Sanchez & Monreal 2 highly rated Spanish wingbacks, Isco & Juami 2 prodigious youngsters to add youth and competition to the team ... now that's some team. €55 million spent is more than anyone else in Spain.
The backroom staff is excellent too with Pellegrini, Fernandez and now Fernando Hierro, the man who was sporting director for the Spanish Football Federation, the brashness of the money seems offset by lower profile football men who have proved that they know how to manage & understand the game. Suddenly, Malaga is being talked about as if they are Spain's third team, as if that power base in the South is a reality.
That's not a young fan with Van Nistelrooy... Watch out for Buonanotte next season!
Malaga’s Qatari owner Sheikh Abdulla Bin Nasser Al-Thani's statement in an Arab-language newspaper reveals plan to build a Malaga stadium which will be one of the most impressive in Spain, and it has already been given a name – Qatar Stadium.
“With Qatar named hosts for the 2022 World Cup I aim to build a stadium which will carry its name. It will be the first of its type in the world to be named after my country and the ideal capacity would be around 65,000 spectators. "
He also told of his intention to construct a football academy: “I have already purchased a piece of land measuring 120,000 square metres on which I intend to establish the Malaga Football Academy. This will include ten mini-stadiums where children can play football and various steps have already been taken to get the project off the ground. One of them is the decision to employ Antonio Fernández as director of football. He is one of the most important men in Spanish sport and has been instrumental in the discovery of many stars in La Liga. Fernandez will work alongside different members of the backroom staff in finding and recruiting players of different ages.”
In addition, the complex would double-up as a modern training facility for the first team squad, who at present use the city’s athletic stadium – and the Sheikh hopes to have it up and running in record time. The start of the 2011/12 season has been earmarked as a possible launch date. His right-hand man, Vice-President Abdullah Ghubn, was due back in Spain before Christmas and hopes to finalise a deal for 500,000 square metres of land in the Puerto de la Torre area of the city, which will accommodate both projects. The total cost will be over £300m and as the site is adjacent to a new ring-road currently under construction it would give easy access from all parts of the Costa del Sol.
He has also been given permission to redevelop and extend a new port at La Bajadilla in Marbella (near to MalagaCF's location) with plans which include a circular wall and exterior dyke and a 200 metre quay for cruise liners.The new port will have 1,220 berths. The current fishing port will be displaced and a new underground car park will give space for 450 vehicles in addition to the 683 places there are currently on the surface.Tut the Sheik’s company has spoken of more than 400 million on the project & the works project will be presented in six months, and construction is expected to take two years.
Furthermore Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani signed a four-year agreement with UNESCO, in which Malaga will pay €6m annually. Moreover the new Nike branded team payed off the debt and build relations with local andalucia clubs like Granada, Xerez... It will be interesting to see how their rivalry goes with Sevilla & Real Betis, both of whom have a 50,000 capacity stadium.
Future Malaga CF?
With Manuel Pellegrini Malaga CF is set to play attacking football & they are aiming for a european place this season with the objective set to be raised higher in the following seasons.Personally i think they could further develop their squad with a reputed goalkeeper, Stekelenburg or Akinfeev to name a few and get in laliga experienced, young talented available players like Dos Santos, Drenthe, Pedro Leon, Adebayor...
It could all go horribly wrong of course & some are gleefully waiting for it to. Malaga still has to overcome the likes of Valencia, At Madrid, At Bilbao, Sevilla, Villareal before they can think of the Clasico teams, but there is a buzz around Malaga now, where season ticket sales have rocketed & a full house is guaranteed.