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Where did it go wrong for Gibraltar United?

Monday’s 1-0 defeat to St Joseph’s expressed major concerns and summed up what has been an inconsistent season – we take a look at some of the issues which have caused the club problems. 

Photo (C) Rough and Ready

It was April 3rd 2017, and news had spread fast of the possibility of Real Madrid legend Michel Salgado taking majority control of Premier Division side Gibraltar United – alongside Pablo Dana, a founder of a company in Dubai. 

Following on from that, Gib Utd’s ideology of “only locals” was thrown out of the window, ending the teams ideology of being the “Bilbao of Gibraltar”. Manolo Nunez Sanchez kept his job, but then a big clear-out ensued – Erin Barnett, Chino Goldwin, Jamie Bosio, Aymen Mouelhi & Brad Power had their contracts renewed while the others were shown the door. Gibraltar U21’s trio Michael Negrette, Tito De Torres & Cecil Prescott would be Chupete’s first three signings. 

Their first mistake was letting go of Jason Pusey & Anthony Hernandez on the back of what were good seasons for themselves. Arguably you could say Anthony’s was out of their hands – it’s hard to turn down a “hefty” fee from Lincoln while Pusey, getting back to his best after struggling with injury for so many years, was left out to dry and ended up following Anthony to Lincoln. 

No complaints on the season which would follow, Gibraltar United would finish fourth – beating Lincoln & Europa but missing out on the final Europa League spot in the manner which they did, you felt overshadowed their success just slightly. However, just after the end of the season, ill-advised tweets from Salgado about the manner in which they missed out on European football did little to endear himself or the club to local football fans

In the summer, Manolo was relinquished of his duties after three years and in his place would be 56-year old Lucas Cazorla Luque – previously of Velez CF. His professionalism and old school way of coaching turned the club upside down and really kicked a lot of their players in shape.

After a superb start to the 18/19 season which saw them beat Lincoln 1-0, that followed a 3-1 loss to Europa in the end of October and the players have really struggled to get back to the kind of confidence which got them so high up the table. 

Now, they sit fifth and after three straight defeats, you feel the club really is really in a unstable position. So what’s been different? Paul Collado stepped down as President which meant the group that started with him is now only led by Adrian Ballestero. Have the club potentially lost more of their identity and become “just another Gibraltarian club”, where the bare minimum in terms of local players start?

Constant friction between players and manager is a huge area of concern , and while you could say this stems from the people above, late payments of players wages was the talk at the end of last season. This season, the same stories continue to rise, even after the current regime opted to start playing their players in cryptocurrency – a move which got the team a lot of publicity but also raised many eyebrows.

Perhaps this is another blip – the team suffered a similarly poor run of form around this time last year, but just like we’ve seen in other clubs this season, we could see “player power” coming into effect and Mr Cazorla on his way out of the club, leaving Gibraltar United at a big crossroads.

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