Europa’s loss to Lions on Tuesday night summed up how their season has been so far – not good enough. We take a look at the number of reasons behind their unconvincing performances.
After stopping Lincoln’s run of 14 title wins in a row, many believed there was a “shift in power” and the performance in the first leg of the Champions League tie against TNS looked like it might be the case. Despite bowing out in a crazy second leg, which saw Kike & Alex Quillo sent off, nobody would have expected the changes which transpired during the summer.
When word got round of Liam Walker having trials with teams in UK, you would expect a sense of uncertainty growing in the club and the possibility of losing your best player last season was finalised when League Two side Notts County announced the signing of the Gibraltarian International on a one-year deal.
Juanjo Gallardo, the treble winning manager was relived of his duties and went back to his Sporting Director role – what happened to the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – unless he wanted to leave which we don’t feel was the case. His replacement was 38-year old Jonathan Parrado who had previous experience with Los Barrios & San Roque in the Tercera Division.
His first task was finding a replacement for Walker and in a press conference he revealed that 35-year old Jorge Pina would be that guy – the midfielder represented Spain at youth level but has gone downhill since then with his last club being Loja Club Deportivo, a familiar sight for players coming to Gibraltar.
Kike was arguably one of Europa’s best players, if not the best player in the league scoring around 30 goals – he has six right now and we’re more or less halfway through the season. What’s happened?
Defender Jose Rodriguez joined from Los Barrios and was brought in to add some cover or try and break up the partnership between Merino & Belfortti which was so good last season. Despite picking up a serious injury against Gibraltar United in last December, from what we’ve seen that himself & Pina are average players on seemingly big money – if the players brought in by the manager are average, it doesn’t reflect well on him.
One player who has done well is Nito, who also joined from Los Barrios, and has done a better job of replacing Walker than Jorge has. Even though his height is an issue against physical teams, technically he has been a help for Europa when things have been looking down.
This has shown in their league form also – three defeats this season and two have been from Lions. Performances have been inconsistent, different starting eleven nearly every game and at times, no plan A or B on the pitch. The use of (or really lack of use of) their locals has got people talking, with many unhappy so what needs to be done?
Football is about risks and you need to take them when it comes to fighting for the league; especially when you know Lincoln will do whatever it takes – they’ve shown it this season with the calibre of players brought in which aren’t cheap. It also didn’t help Europa when they lost two of their biggest summer targets, in Anthony Hernandez & Falu to your rivals, which have gone on to do so well this season.
With the gap at the top expected to extend to fourteen points, we can all agree that Europa have made some big mistakes over the last few months and we’re certain that things are in place to improve for next season but what? Could Walker’s return be the answer or could that be another transfer target which will be lost to Lincoln in the summer? We will wait and see.