It is hard to believe that until August 2017, Jose Bordalas had never managed a match in the Spanish top flight. It was not for a lack of trying – he had been involved in management across a 25-year spell but had never been able to breach the top-flight. He was desperately unfortunate not to do so the previous year, when he guided Alaves to La Liga after a 10-year absence only to be dismissed after winning the Segunda title.
That was a decision which ultimately proved hugely beneficial not only to Alaves – who have impressed in three successive seasons in the Primera – but also to Bordalas, who has worked wonders at Getafe. He took the helm at Los Azulones in September 2016, with the club second-from-bottom in the Segunda and facing the prospect of further gloom and doom.
Based in Madrid’s southern suburbs, Getafe were facing the prospect of successive relegations having ended a 12-year stay in the top-flight. Most are aware that they are a relatively small club by the standards of La Liga but they are far from being a powerhouse in the tier below either. Even in the top-flight, only four sides average fewer than their 10,800 and their figure dips to below 10,000 when you remove the visits of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
Getafe had no period of transition under Bordalas, they reacted to his methods immediately and have not looked back in the 32 months since. They were transformed under him in his debut season, guiding them from the relegation zone to promotion via the playoffs and in their first season back in the top-flight, they finished eighth and narrowly missing out on Europe. This campaign, they finished fifth and missing out on a Champions League spot on the final day of the season.
They have the fourth smallest budget in the division but confound their critics time after time. Their squad is comprised of freebies and modest signings from the Segunda, there are no stars in this team but it is the collective who are the star. Bordalas is an angry, constantly-motivated boss who demands the same of his players. Getafe are not easy on the eye, they are nasty to play against, they hassle and harry, they press, they foul. It is not pretty, but it is effective, and it is questionable if any other style could have gotten them this far.
Can they go further? Games in Europe may take their toll but will also allow for a greater budget and a new chapter in the club. They will be desperate for Bordalas to remain the protagonist as they turn the page.
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