Only six wins in 36 League games, 67 goals against, three coaches and the longest streak of consecutive games without winning in the League (27). Levante has one foot in the Second Division and the agony may have its last chapter this Thursday if they don’t beat Real Madrid. The Bernabéu can witness the glory of the champions and the bitterness of those who are expelled from the First Division, a fate against which the Granotas have rebelled very late. It is not impossible for the team to come out alive, because they have scored points in three of their last four visits, but even winning will depend on what their rivals like Cádiz and Granada do in the last two games. Salvation seems like a chimera.
How can a model club, a Cup semifinalist a year ago and consolidated in the First Division, break down? Because football charges dearly for every mistake on the pitch and in offices. Since that Athletic goal in extra time that left them on the verge of a Cup final, the club has been accumulating setbacks.
The first was to extend the stage of Paco López without faith in the sports management. It had been five years of growth, stability and comfortable saves, but the team closed last season without winning a game since April 10, there were no sales to lighten the accounts and air the locker room and the arrivals were not a plus either: Roberto Soldier He arrived injured and Mustafi hadn’t competed in months. The start was no better.
After eight days, Levante fell into descent and the second error came: president Quico Catalán announced the dismissal of the coach, which caused a shock equivalent to the election of his replacement, Javier Pereira, a coach with no experience in the First Division who it took him more than a week to leave China to take the reins. Before two months he had already been replaced along with the entire sports area that chose him. His balance in seven games was three draws, four defeats and a feeling of decomposition.
The resuscitation maneuver was entrusted to Alessio Lisci, the young Italian who had shone in lower categories and directed the subsidiary. He had a hard time making players as committed as captain José Luis Morales believe that they were in time to make amends and he found support in the arrival of Felipe Miñambres to the sports management.
The first victory came on January 8, but by then Levante had already accumulated 27 consecutive days without winning, a record in the First Division, and had only added eight points. During the alleged takeoff Lisci changed the system, injuries to players like De Frutos or Roger appeared, the relapses of Campaign and the doubts that made games escape that they had under control or that drove them crazy, such as the duel against Barça in the City. But the team woke up.
Of the six victories achieved, three have been in the last six games, in a sprint that is going to fall short for a good squad whose leadership is exercised by veterans like Roger and Morales, fifth in the national scorers table with 12 goals. His tears after some games have been the reflection of an inevitable fate that ends with the best stage in the club’s history.
A descent never comes at a good time, but Levante’s today is the most complicated of the five years. The pandemic and the paralysis of the market reduced their income and increased their debt. The board of directors went into debt to remodel the stadium and build a new sports complex in the maritime district of Nazareth and, although the arrival of CVC has been a respite, the financial balance was due to being in the First Division. Quico Catalán knows this, and after years of praised management, he announced that he would submit to the shareholders’ examination to evaluate his presidency at the end of a season that will end in suspense.
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