Marcelino is a Sporting fan – it’s perfectly understandable – he’s from there, he was raised on dizzying rollercoaster rides like yesterday's. He’s a Sporting man through and through and with every right to be so. But this week, with one silly remark – saying that he wanted the Asturian side (who were to meet his Villarreal side on a crucial final day) to stay up, he put the dampeners on the final day of action in the league. On top of which he granted his players three days off last week and declined to field his most competitive side; Rayo and Getafe were not happy and they made their feelings known. Without that comment from Marcelino, perhaps it would have all turned out the same, and those who descended would be more resigned to their fate. Marcelino was much more agreeable when he kept his counsel.
As for the rest, Sporting deserve a round of applause. They’ve fought hammer and tong in spite of their limitations; they finished the campaign strongly, guided by Abelardo’s wise hand, and they have counted on the support of exemplary fans who have packed El Molinón week in week out, and have taken their club colours around Spain when the team has been on the road with their famous fanbase, La Mareona. Sporting is one of Spain’s clasic sides who have been through tough times but managed to save themselves in the season they returned to the top flight, which is always the most difficult. From now on, everything will be less arduous. The financial restrictions to bring in new players will be lifted. They can now make the next step, consolidate their position in the First Division, where they belong, gradually improve their position year on year and maybe even return to European competition one day.
On the flip side of the coin were Rayo and Getafe, relegated on the day when madrileños were celebrating the day of the city’s patron saint, San Isidro. With scant resources, Rayo have managed to fight above their weight for five years; playing an elegant style of football which they have maintained with modest squads, rebuilt year after year at zero cost; an admirable job done by Martín Presa, Miñambres and Paco Jémez. As for Getafe, they’ve spent 12 seasons toiling against a head wind; it’s been a titanic task – and a personal one for president Ángel Torres, whose efforts have not always been reciprocated by the city. Now both of them, like Levante, must begin the journey to return to the top flight. Let’s hope we see thm both again in the Primera Division sooner rather than later.