Seville is one of Spain’s most passionate footballing cities and Real Betis are one of Spain’s biggest clubs – maybe not in silverware, but certainly in terms of the size of the fanbase and their high expectations.
Sometimes however, it’s not spectacular progress that is needed but gradual improvement – a sentiment that the club as a collective are moving in the right direction. That’s very much the sense at Betis right now under Manuel Pellegrini according to Miguel Á. Morán writing in Marca.
Aged 67, Pellegrini is one of the elder statesmen of European football. The Chilean has coached in his native land, Ecuador, Argentina, Spain, England and China, leading Manchester City to the Premier League title and building a formidable Villarreal team either side of a spell in charge of Real Madrid.
He took charge of Betis this past close season and has taken the Andalusian club to seventh in the league table. They’ve played nine, won four and lost five, with 12 points on the board heading into the November international break. They’re eight points from Real Sociedad at the top of the tree and six from Huesca at the bottom of the pile.
“There are many aspects of the game in which they must improve: defence without the ball, finishing, discipline,” wrote Morán. “But the truth is that their record, a quarter of the way into the new season, invites a glass half-full perspective.
“In their first nine league games, Pellegrini’s men have already met Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid. They have also faced Real Sociedad, LaLiga leaders, and have visited Getafe’s Coliseum Alfonso Pérez, one of Spain’s most difficult stadiums.
“Los Verdiblancos are on course to achieve 50 points this season, an improvement on Rubi’s record last season and identical to that achieved in Quique Setién’s second year. Should they maintain their improvement, their average should also rise.”
Betis have a gifted squad to call upon. In club stalwart Joaquín they have a man to transmit the club’s values, and he’s joined in their midfield by creative talents including Sergio Canales, Nabil Fekir and Cristian Tello.
Defender Marc Bartra has already sung his new coach’s praises – the feeling emerging from Seville is that he could prove just the man to extract undoubted potential from a talented but underperforming squad.
Featured image courtesy of SportsCafe.