La Liga: Why Malaga's Offseason Changes Will Guarantee Success
2012/13 was a season of highs capped off by massive blows for Malaga. Following a magical run into Champions League quarter-finals, Manuel Pellegrini's side were tipped to be the next in line to challenge Spain’s “Big Two” in the form of Real Madrid and Barcelona.
With Pellegrini at the helm and Isco as the creative mastermind, their unprecedented success was a signal that the Andalusian club were a powerhouse in the making. However, fast forward two months, and it looks as though the club are in a dire state.
Malaga are now serving a European ban, meaning they will not be participating in the upcoming edition of the Europa League. Mastermind Pellegrini departed in order to join Manchester City, Isco was sold to Real Madrid following an impressive European Under-21 campaign along with other crucial players who played pivotal roles in the club’s recent success.
With those departures came important changes in the managerial department. Former Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster stepped up to replace the Chilean legend.
Although he was a controversial figure at Los Blancos, Schuster is a man with a wealth of footballing experience. He understands the Spanish game from top to bottom, being a former midfielder for both Madrid clubs and Barcelona, and comes into this job knowing he has nothing to lose.
However, the fact that Schuster is eager to continue building on those tactical foundations which Pellegrini had implemented must mean that the German faces the unavoidable task of replacing those players with new additions while keeping the same tactical philosophy and expelling the flaws which were so evident throughout.
His job will be aided by various summer deals at extremely low prices. One signing in particular, in the form of Bobley Anderson, whose transfer was confirmed on the club’s official website, has seen fans of La Rosaleda express their excitement.
Anderson possesses the qualities which his predecessor, Isco, was able to showcase. Blessed with speed and silky dribbling skills, Anderson has shown that he can unlock any defence with his vision and creativity and that he possesses the ability to control the game in midfield.
Will Malaga be able to build on previous successes this season?
Fresh faced and talented, he rose to fame while on duty for the Ivory Coast during last year’s summer Olympics.
However, despite the similarities, Schuster will now need to build his offensive strategies around a youngster who is unfamiliar with the Spanish game, and it may prove to be a defining moment in his managerial career.
Schuster told reports (via Football Espana):
Malaga’s main project has always been very clear, with some significant changes to be made compared to previous years. Focus will be on the younger players, with the aim of training them up to first team level and Primera Division Spanish football.
We’re looking at combining the more experienced players with some of the younger ones in the first team, which is why this is a five-year project.
At the moment, we await three more players to come into the squad. We are not complete, but we have people for every position and we will work with everyone until we are perfect. We will move forward a lot in training with these three additions due and next week when we get to the first games we can also go further. We are on track.
It seems that Schuster will indeed pick either a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-2-2-2 formation. The latter will allow for a creative midfield, the backbone of the side’s attack, while allowing for greater efficiency up front, with Roque Santa Cruz and one of Juanmi, Francisco Portillo and Seba Fernandez playing as deeper-lying strikers.
Meanwhile, his 4-2-3-1 formation allows for overlapping runs on the flanks, more flexible attacking positioning while maintaining defensive stability; a factor which cost the side a Champions League semi-final spot.
The foundations have been laid and, with these changes, which Schuster has been working on since the beginning of preseason, fans can expect thrilling season ahead.
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