Robbie Dunne on the La Liga club who suffered relegation at the weekend
A defeat to Real Sociedad was enough to end Granada’s six year stint in the Primera Division at the weekend and with that comes plenty of scrutiny over management of the club, Tony Adams’ role in all of it and where the club go from here.
The club’s president John Jiang took to the club’s website to release a statement after the relegation and he said the situation was “temporary” and asked the club’s fans to hold firm.
Relegation does not need to be fatal for the club. Just over 10 years ago, they were operating in the regional Tercera division, the fourth tier of Spanish football before lifting themselves through the ranks into a top flight team. By dropping a division, they can reconnect with their fan base, their city and themselves as the new owners fumble their way to finding what the club is all about. They have hired a man in Manuel Salvador, who brings with him a blueprint of what to do having returned Levante to the top flight and leading them to a period of success never before seen at the Valencian club.
As for Tony Adams, he must feel right at home at Granada Football Club. Right at home meaning he is just another outsider in a team full of them. Of the 11 players who started and were beaten by Real Sociedad, just four of them will be there beyond the summer. Fourteen of the 25 man squad are there on loan.
For all the fingers pointed in Tony Adams’ direction, however, the former Arsenal star was simply put in as a stopgap as they were caught between a rock and a hard place with Lucas Alcaraz as the manager and the club nosediving towards relegation. They handed the 50-year-old a new contract the day after a 5-0 defeat to Real Madrid, announcing him as a, “club man and an important piece in Granada's project for the future”. After that, they lost nine of 14. The club knew they had to move on but didn’t want to place a captain on a ship that had several holes in it and was sinking fast.
It seemed the club knew what was coming and Adams, a man who wasn't suited to a life in the dugout put his hand up to take over the team until the end of the season. They have also started making moves to turn the team into a decent reflection of the picturesque city in the south of Spain that they represent.
On May 1st, Manuel Salvador starts his work as the sporting director of the club - on the same weekend that his former club, Levante, were promoted back to the Primera after falling short last year in their bid to stay up. Salvador, the club’s former sporting director took the club through it’s golden era and is now tasked with returning Granada to the top sooner rather than later and if there happens to be a golden era thrown into the deal, it wouldn’t hurt either.
“This boat can continue to float,” he said at his unveiling, “I am a man who likes a challenge,” he continued before going on to say that despite the quality within the team, they had fallen short because of the lack of solidarity. It is that lack of solidarity that has them where they are now and he has passed his first test at the club in assessing one of the main problems regardless of how obvious it was.
To the management’s credit, if we must, they seem to know where they want to go, but they are struggling to get there. That was evident in the signing of Paco Jemez, a coach known for his aggressive style of attacking football. They also tried to bring in some flair to help him out with the likes of Andres Pereira from Manchester United without knowing the consequences that would come with bringing a team full of what the fans have taken to calling “mercenaries”.
Dropping down a division helped Levante figure out what it was they were doing and Granada might benefit too. They won't be able to loan players from the like of Manchester United with the sell of top flight first team football. They will have to be savvy and sign players from around Spain and who know what Granada Football Club is all about.
The new owners deserve the benefit of one more year to come through with their vision of creating a club with a Spanish feel to it. It might be counter-intuitive to believe that Tony Adams is the man to do that but he has made assurances and while his stint in the dugout wasn't great, his job in the office can’t be any worse.