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- 21/05/2012, 17:02 #1
Peña Bética : Real Betis Season Review 11/12
It’s been a brilliant first season back In La Liga for Real Betis featuring a mid-table finish and a derby win over city rivals Sevilla. Ben Hardman guides you through Los Verdiblancos season.
Season end and mission complete for Real Betis Balompié. As first seasons back in la primera go, it was very successful. A healthy 13th placed finish for a newly promoted team is a fantastic achievement, and if Keita hadn’t scored an 93rd minute leveler for Barcelona in the last game it would have been a top half finish.
There were highs and lows aplenty making the season’s journey uncomfortable at times, but ask any right-minded Bético if they would have taken 13th before the season and they would have snaffled up your offer.
The key to Betis’ success? Perseverance and support. That encompasses everyone involved in the club: the board, the manager, the squad and the fans.
Times were hard back in the autumn when Betis had suffered nine losses and a draw in ten games, however, panic was not on the clubs agenda. Many other clubs would have hastily sacked their manager and been none the better for it. We have seen exactly this happen this season with the three teams who were relegated; Racing Santander have seen two managers depart this season, Sporting Gijon – one and Villarreal – two.
The Betis board stuck by Mel and as a result they will be playing Primera football next season. Many would argue that the decision to support Mel was a no-brainer; he is adored by the fans and the players so why wouldn’t they keep faith in him? After another wobble during January and February, club chairman, Miguel Guillen, stated that Mel has proven himself capable of reversing the situation and backed the coach.
No doubt the boards’ faith and patience paid off. Mel also played a huge part in ensuring the squad remained harmonious. No player got too ahead of themselves when they were close to a European place and no player thought they were too big to battle when threatened by relegation.
Then we have the most important commodity in any club: the fans. Los Béticos have epitomised how true fans should act; they have been vociferous in their support, and in true Andalucian style, are always willing to put a show on.
Player of the Season
There have been two stand-out players this season: Beñat and Rubén Castro.
Beñat has been majestic in the middle of the park; orchestrating play with neat and decisive passing, battling hard and popping up with the odd important goal, or two in the case of Sevilla! He has contributed with six goals and five assists. His form has not gone unnoticed and he has been deservedly selected by Vicente del Bosque’s to play in the two friendlies before Euro 2012.
This is a chance to stake a claim for the few remaining uncertain places in del Bosque’s tournament squad. Good news for Betis? Well, not really as it is likely to draw more attention to him from major European clubs and I’m sure there will be a lot of speculation this summer as at the age of 25 he is about to come into his prime.
Rubén Castro has kept Betis afloat this season. Without his 16 goals and seven assists los verdiblancos would have been in serious trouble this season. The Gran Canarian was extremely unlucky not to have been selected by del Bosque, who instead went for the tried and tested Alvaro Negredo, although in my opinion he has not shown the form that Castro has this season.
Castro has scored a whole array of goals: powerful strikes, sublime finishes, headers and tap-ins. He is cool in front of goal and has a great knack of appearing in the right place at the right time. He is the happiest he has been in his journeyman career Betis and long may this continue.
Most improved player
There can be only one man for this award: Jefferson Montero.
The on-loan Ecuadorian has improved no end this season in terms of confidence, decision-making and end product. If you are a regular reader of Peña Bétcia you would have noticed that Montero has featured many times, mainly due to his hit and miss performances, however during the closing months Montero’s hard work has paid off.
He was no longer shooting from 40 yards out instead he had his head up and was looking for a pass. He began to terrorise defences with his pace and skill (ask Dani Alves) and even scored a goal!
He is by far a finished article but the tragedy with this improvement is that he may have priced himself out of making himself a permanent Betis fixture.
He is technically a Villarreal player but with them now plying their trade in la Segunda as of next season, we are likely to see Montero to move to a bigger European club.
2-1 away win just across the city in the Sánchez Pizjuán was a sweet, sweet moment. Beñat struck two beautifully precise freekicks both rebounding in off the post, with the winner coming in the 92nd minute. Betis outplayed Sevilla and cemented themselves as the best team in Seville!
Other good moments include the home and away wins against Athletic and the exquisite performance by both team and crowd against Real Madrid in the Benito Villamarín. Betis lost the game 3-2 but there is a unanimous feeling that los verdiblancos were well and truly robbed of what would have been a fine victory.
Without doubt the darkest moment was the 10 game winless streak. It definitely stretched the patience of all involved yet thankfully it was halted before delusion set in.
Aims for next season
The future for Real Betis Balompié looks very bright. Yes, the club does have its debt problems but these are now being managed correctly. La cantera, youth team, of Betis has an abundant of talent. We were given a few glimpses of future stars towards the end of the season as Mel started to sharpen the teeth of those chomping on the bit.
Right midfielder, Nono, made a few brief appearances and certainly made an impression. He is currently in the Spain under-19 squad and is set to make waves in the years to come. Alongside Nono in Betis B we have the exciting talents of Manu Palancar and Alex Martinez. Let’s not forget Alvaro Vadillo who at the start of the season became the second youngest ever player to appear in La Liga at the tender age of 16.
Unfortunately his season was cut short after tearing his cruciate ligament against Real Madrid in October but he has subsequently recovered well and has even managed a few run-outs for Betis B. Lastly we have Alejandro Pozuelo who has made various appearances for the first team this season, including a classy and majestic display against Sevilla in the 2-1 away win. He also managed to finish top goalscorer for Betis B.
Next season needs to be a building process. In my view a top half finish is what Betis should be aiming for. Integrating the cantera youth into the main set up is important and it is something that I feel Mel holds high on his agenda. I am hoping we can make a few loan signings permanent, namely Paulao, Jefferson Montero and Roque Santa Cruz, but there has been little advancement with either of these players thus far.
Nevertheless I’m hoping a mix of hungry youth and experience will see Betis become more consistent and less erratic, enabling them to climb the table.
‘The season for Betis has been remarkable’, summed up Pepe Mel. Betis have the structure in place for an even more remarkable future.
Peña Bética : Real Betis Season Review 11/12 | Inside Spanish Football