As soon as the white handkerchiefs come out, you know that things aren’t going your way. But for Quique Sanchez Flores’ Espanyol side, an impressive comeback from 0-3 down to draw 3-3 with Eibar at Cornella-El Prat on afternoon seemed to appease some of the fans, at least for the time being.
To be fair, they had reason to be unhappy. Los Periquitos have now won one of eight games since the season started after a new Coach had been appointed by Chinese owners with ambitions of Champions League football and a flurry of new and experienced players had been brought in to improve the squad.
The aforementioned Sanchez Flores came in after being sacked by Watford, despite a fairly successful campaign that included an FA Cup semi-final. He has employed a similar 4-4-2 formation to the one that worked in North London since moving to Barcelona, however it’s clear now that without a partnership similarly prolific to the one that Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo enjoyed together last season, goals will be and have been scarce.
The 51-year-old has been more worried about his side’s defence, though, claiming “it’s very important” that they keep clean sheets. He would have been happy then, with the fact that Espanyol did not concede in the two games prior to the one at the weekend, albeit in two 0-0 draws. Whether it was the introduction of Martin Demichelis or the excellent attacking from Eibar that caused his team to throw it all away, it was a first half of terrible defending from the Catalans.
The main problem seems to be the losing mentality that Sanchez Flores has inherited. As the David to Barcelona’s Goliath, mid-table finishes have been a normality for a number of years now, and that needs to be shaken in order for the club to progress. Naturally, such a process will take time, something that is rarely given to Coaches in modern-day football. Just ask Paco Jemez.
Before the 3-3 draw, a result which would have been long odds at Tips Daddy, the Coach at a Press conference spoke honestly and interestingly about what Espanyol needed to do in order to improve.
“We must see things in colour, not black and white,” he said. “It’s important not to make our thoughts negative if we want to change our dynamic… It’s necessary that the team are serene when they jump onto the pitch. I like when the players go on the pitch not only thinking they have responsibility but also enjoying themselves. I feel pity when they don’t…
“We’re currently far from where we want to be, but I’m not worried because it’s a slow process. The club have some powerful engines and we all understand that now we must play at a different gear. I hope that we soon uncork the project.”
The comeback at the weekend highlighted not only the fighting spirit of this side, but that there is talent there to be realised. In order to build on their comeback, Espanyol need to give time to a very talented Coach in order for him to implement his ideas and get rid of the mediocrity that has enveloped the club.