x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Espanyol unlikely to find quick fix to end troubles

The Spanish side have won just seven of 35 games in 2012, and fans have been protesting against the board since March.

Espanyol's Argentinian coach Mauricio Pochettino reacts during the Spanish league football match Valencia CF vs Espanol on December 3, 2011 at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia. AFP PHOTO/ JOSE JORDAN
Espanyol's Argentinian coach Mauricio Pochettino reacts during the Spanish league football match Valencia CF vs Espanol on December 3, 2011 at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia. AFP PHOTO/ JOSE JORDAN

Barcelona and Lionel Messi may be breaking records by the week, but it is a far bleaker picture across the city at Espanyol, who are bottom of the league.

Espanyol have won just seven of 35 games in 2012. They have not scored in their past three home games and fans have been protesting against the board since March. Elections earlier this month saw a new president elected at the club, which is in turmoil.

Average attendance has fallen from almost 30,000 in 2011 around 20,000. Just 19,000 saw their last home game, a defeat to Getafe, which led to the coach Mauricio Pochettino being dismissed after nearly four years in charge.

The Argentine did well in his first three seasons and had been at the helm when they moved to their stunning new stadium, but bottom of the table is nowhere near good enough for a team with the eighth-highest wage bill in Spain.

His replacement, Javier Aguirre, oversaw a 0-0 draw against Granada at the weekend, but the Mexican faces a huge challenge to turn the club's fortunes around.

Espanyol are heavily in debt and have been asked to pay back €6 million (Dh28.7m) of their €23.4m outstanding tax bill.

The Catalans have been forced in the past to sell their best players to balance thebooks. However, the current squad is shy on quality, and may struggle to raise funds through player sales in January.

Espanyol are known as the Pericos (parakeets). Their bird never flies as high at Barca's, but it is all but grounded now.

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE