They say a week is a long time in football. For Robert Moreno, three days is more than long enough. On Monday night, his wild celebrations made him stumble and fall onto the pitch in at the Nuevo Mirandilla when Jorge Molina grabbed a late equaliser.
Unperturbed, he continued cheering and punched the turf in relief, ecstasy or a combination of both. However, just three days later, he had presided over Granada’s humbling defeat in the Copa del Rey at the hands of fourth-tier Atletico Mancha Real.
Earlier this week, Sam Leveridge’s considered piece asked whether Moreno had done enough to be afforded the time to implement his philosophy onto this Granada side.
There is plenty of validity in that argument. The frequency of late goals to save points at the death is a sign of a team with togetherness and belief. The dramatic equaliser at Cadiz on Monday certainly felt like a springboard moment.
However, just 72 hours later, their second Andalusian derby of the week ended embarrassingly. They fell to a 1-0 defeat against the minnows of Mancha Real, a team who were beaten by Granada’s B team earlier this season.
For a fanbase that were watching their team beat Napoli in the Europa League less than a year ago, this result marks a precipitous decline and a new low point in the post-Diego Martinez era. It has been described as the worst result in Granada’s history, a “total humiliation” in the words of Rafael Lamela, journalist at Ideal Granada.
They had never lost to a team three tiers below them. Wherever on the scale you land in your view of Moreno, this fact will stay with him and be a cross marked against his record. Even sympathisers would have to admit that whenever it is often one step forward, two steps back.
In his post-match press conference, Moreno played down the significance of the defeat, and took issue with it being described as a failure, suggesting it was merely a disappointment. This has not gone down well with the fans, many of whom still don’t fully trust in or believe in his words.
Unfortunately for Moreno, his credit wears very thin with a fanbase that had their doubts from the start. Taking over from Martinez was always going to be a mountainous challenge for any manager, and the spine of that team – Rui Silva, Yangel Herrera and Roberto Soldado – have all moved on. The main problem is one of style, and that in itself isn’t necessarily Moreno’s fault. His preference for a possession-based game and playing out from the back is antithetical to the approach of the previous era.
Problematically, the profile of the squad isn’t the greatest match for that style either, which leads to questions of the board in their radical change of approach. Patricia Rodriguez, Sofia Yang and Pep Boada have all faced criticism from fans on social media.
For Moreno, he has to work with what he has, and compromise if necessary. Granada’s next four matches could decide whether he stays in his post for long after New Year. Homes game against Mallorca and then Atletico Madrid before Christmas are followed by a trip to direct rivals Elche to start 2022. It is likely that at least four points – and probably six – will be required to ease the pressure on Moreno. If they fail to pick up the right results, it could be new year and new direction at Nuevo Los Carmenes.