Mid-Season La Liga Ratings and Slatings: Real Sociedad to Zaragoza
FourFourTwo.com's Primera pundit Tim Stannard presents the final part of his half-term report card...
Real Sociedad - current position 15th
The mission for la Real this season is to try and gain some stability under French boss Philippe Montanier and allow a group of talented, home-grown, still-whiffing-of-compost footballers to bed-in, while also avoiding the drop from la Primera. ItÃ¢ÂÂs a mission that went a little off track for a while, with the newbie boss nearly getting Ã¢ÂÂle bootÃ¢ÂÂ back in November after a run of eight league games from which just two points were picked up. But the Basque big-wigs remained firm - just about - and la Real have since started to solidify like stale jelly. They've even been responsible for two of the goals of the season, a couple of halfway line zingers from IÃÂ±igo MartÃÂnez.
LLL Rating: B-
Sevilla - 9th
Horrible. Quite horrible. But thatÃ¢ÂÂs been Sevilla for the past couple of seasons as theyÃ¢ÂÂve gone through managers like Pep Guardiola gets through Rogaine. The latest Ã¢ÂÂnew, new, newÃ¢ÂÂ project leader is Marcelino, who took over from Gregorio Manzano in the summer. MarcelinoÃ¢ÂÂs job was to tighten a horribly leaky defence without damaging a talented forward line.
Although the first part of that mission went reasonably well at start, Sevilla have begun to let goals through at one end whilst failing to score at the other. This is largely the fault of the new boss, whose defensive instincts are such that LLL is sure snipers have been put in place to prevent any Sevilla player bar Alvaro Negredo crossing the halfway line. Pants, pants, pants, pants and if it carries on much longer, Marcelino is a goner, and a good thing too.
LLL Rating: D-
Sporting - 19th
As much as it will disappoint the Spanish public, many of whom see Sporting are a bit of a second favourite due to their fiercely loyal (and mass-traveling) fans and the wonderful Manolo Preciado, this may well be the season that Sporting return to la Segunda after four seasons of top-flight tussling.
ItÃ¢ÂÂs not really anyoneÃ¢ÂÂs fault. Sporting have few resources, struggle to attract anyone to play for them and are running their little Asturian socks off just to stand still. Sporting will need at least seven more victories in the second half of the season, and itÃ¢ÂÂs tough to see where they will be coming from. Aside from the AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid match.
LLL Rating: C-
Valencia - 3rd
Perhaps the reason Valencia fans are generally so grumpy and easy to displease is that the club is stuck in some kind of limbo, perhaps until the end of days in la Liga. The team is never, ever going to be good enough to move above BarÃÂ§a or Real Madrid. But then again, the Mestalla men will rarely be bad enough to slip out of the top three, despite it very much being a selling club due to a pile of debt and a new stadium to build.
And so Valencia will plod along, looking to sniff about for the odd Copa del Rey or European glory along the way. Both are still up for grabs for the club in January - although itÃ¢ÂÂs unlikely Stoke City in the Europa league was what fans and Unai Emery in mind - so it has been a reasonable enough season so far for Unai EmeryÃ¢ÂÂs men.
LLL Rating: C-
Villarreal - 17th
While Villarreal fans are hoping to chuckle away in the shower in May over an entire terrible year that was all just a bad dream, Bobby Ewing-style, it ainÃ¢ÂÂt going to happen. Injuries to strikers Nilmar and Giuseppe Rossi, falling into the relegation zone, a pointless - literally - Champions League campaign and the sacking of the previously imperious Juan Carlos Garrido all really happened.
The one crumb of comfort is that Villarreal canÃ¢ÂÂt possibly have a worse second half to the season than the first - after all, that would mean relegation. Something, quite, quite unthinkable for a team that has achieved so much in recent years.
LLL Rating: F
Zaragoza - 20th
Same old, same old for Zaragoza. Sack the manager who kept them up last season and bring in a bunch of new players over the winter window, hoping for a repeat performance. ThatÃ¢ÂÂs the game plan of Agapito Iglesias, owner and president of Zaragoza, and a gentleman that the fans would dearly love to see the back of after dragging the club further and further into debt and administration over the summer.
Zaragoza have only picked up two wins all season and the blog really canÃ¢ÂÂt see the side picking up eight or nine more and the odd draw in the teamÃ¢ÂÂs remaining matches.
LLL Rating: F-