Osasuna devoid of ideas

Three games and three defeats, Osasuna President said it was the first time in 12 years that the board felt embarrassed in their own stadium as they watched Villarreal pummel their team. As a section of the fans chanted ‘Mendilibar out’, the President cowered and the team showed no reaction – Osasuna were in disarray.

On the pitch, the Pamplona side have been woeful. Lacking in ideas and void of character, the one thing Osasuna could boast last season was their impeccable defence, especially at home. Having conceded only 14 goals in front of their own fans last term, second only to Atletico Madrid’s strong home defence, this season they have already conceded five in their El Sadar Stadium and seven overall. Muddled and unbalanced, the side have failed to keep their proper positions when attacked by their opponent.

Scoring only one in three games, attack is widely regarded as Osasuna’s weakness once more. Without Kike Sola, the side were always going to struggle to convert but what has proved more concerning is their inability to provide any penetrative passes going forward. Confused and overwhelmed, once their players reach the box, they appear simply to have no idea what to do next.

Disorganised on and off the pitch, some felt the club needed a fresh start this summer. Sporting director Angel Martin Gonzalez agreed as he submitted his resignation in June only to have it rejected. President Miguel Archanco confirmed both Gonzalez and the Coach for the start of this season, believing they had what it took to continue leading the club. Fast forward three months and both men have been sacked. Osasuna are rock bottom, with no points, no Coach, no sporting director and no time to plan a new project.

Whilst Mendilibar has erred in his tactics and failed to address the exposed spaces on the pitch and lack of fluidity in attack, he is not entirely responsible for this collapse. Over the past three years the club have made €15.8m in sales, yet have only brought in €5.4m worth of talent in the transfer market. Stars who helped them survive in the top flight were shown the door in hopes other miracle players would arrive to have the same impact. For a while at least, the formula worked, perhaps due to the bonus scheme on offer last year.

Each point racked up in the League last season saw the players rewarded financially. Paying out close to €1.5m in total to the squad for achieving survival thanks to the bonus scheme, the club now seem unwilling to reward effort this time around. Whilst they recognise the need to incentivise their players to give maximum effort on the pitch, they are hoping to negotiate a lump sum amount to be paid out if the team avoid relegation – a figure they hope will prove to be much smaller than the one they were forced to pay out last season.

With lower financial rewards, a weaker squad and no forward planning, Osasuna were perhaps always destined for misery.