Tim Stannard reacts to Eibar's surprise table-topping antics, only a matter of months after the minnows were relegated from the top flight...
If LLL had a near-death experience - the nearest it ever came was a worrying period spent driving around the terrifying roads of South Florida with eyes permanently closed - then the blog likes to think it would be a cheerful, positive, seize-the-day type of person. And really irritating, to boot.
It’s important to keep the newspapers and remember this for the future. It will give us confidence
But as the nearest it has come to moving onto another plane was during a numbingly awful goalless draw in January involving Getafe, LLL remains a curmudgeonly, miserable old git that grumbles from the second it wakes up.
However, Eibar have been able to look back into the crater of the La Liga volcano, fall in, and then bungee back out again while shoving Elche into the inferno instead, and take full advantage of a new lease of life by sitting at the top of the table.
Yes, only one round has been played in La Primera, and yes, Eibar are only at the top of the tree because the side managed to win by a two-goal margin in a round when few other teams had any gumption. But the team are happily above the big four of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atlético and Deportivo.
The victory came on Monday night with a rather surprising 3-1 beating of Granada on the road, and mirrored a fast start to last year’s campaign which ended in relegation but then resurrection with Elche suffering an administrative purge to La Segunda due to unsecured debts to the Spanish Tax Man.
Eibar are no moaning flesh-eating zombies. More like feisty vampires, instead
Eibar’s new coach is Jose Luis Mendilibar, a craggy-faced Scotsman of a Spaniard with the habit of getting gigs at struggling clubs and sometimes helping them to survive with the help of discipline, finger-waggings and endless drills. Eibar were the second club in Mendilibar’s managerial career a decade ago, and it is now a project for the new boss to try and make the club’s campaign last for the whole year, rather than peter out at the end.
Mendilibar certainly isn’t the type to boast about Eibar’s impressive berthing, but he will keep the headlines being written for when the times are grimmer up north. “It’s important to keep the newspapers and remember this for the future. It will give us confidence,” said the Basque boss.
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The squad has received a heavy face-lift since last campaign with 20 players coming into the team, all on free transfers or loans. Two of those newbies, Adrián Gonzalez (son of Marseille boss, Míchel) and Gonzalo Escalante were on the scoresheet on Monday.
The concept of maintaining a position in the top four for another weekend is not completely out of the question for Eibar. Only five teams managed to win their matches last week, and Eibar are at home to Basque neighbours Athletic Bilbao, a team that face a draining Europa League clash on Thursday. It’s yet another game in a busy schedule that has already seen the team play six competitive matches this season.
Eibar may be the reanimated Walking Dead of La Liga this season, but the team are no moaning flesh-eating zombies. More like feisty vampires, instead.