Alex Ferguson’s Greatest Win

Sir Alex Ferguson’s achievements over 27 years with Manchester United were legendary, but surely his finest hour came before he arrived at Old Trafford. A remarkable victory while in charge of a much smaller club, achieved at the expense of a true giant of football, puts all his subsequent glories into context.

Ferguson left the game with a poor record against Real Madrid. In six games against them as manager of United he won just once, and that wasn’t a glorious occasion for him as he still lost the tie: all three of his European ties against Real ended in elimination, the most recent being his Champions League swansong. But he faced Los Merengues on one other occasion, with a provincial Scottish side, and emerged with victory and his first European trophy.

Ferguson arrived at Aberdeen in 1978, having been sacked by Saint Mirren and lost his claim of unfair dismissal as an industrial tribunal described him as “particularly petty” and “immature”. The Buddies’ reward was to look on as he created a third power in Scottish football.

If the hegemony of Barcelona and Real Madrid bothers you, take a look at Scotland, where Rangers and Celtic transcend all else. Even the remarkable current circumstances in the Scottish game, with Rangers demoted for financial reasons, has only altered the balance to an extent: they continued to monopolise attention with their neighbours while working their way up the divisions, the SPL title a one-horse race in their absence.

Yet Ferguson’s Aberdeen broke their duopoly, winning  three league titles, four Scottish Cups and the League Cup in eight years at Pittodrie. The east coast side, developed under his iron fist with his assistant, Archie Knox, featured many players who would feature prominently for Scotland during a period strong on promise but lacking when it came to substantial achievement. Many would go on to become significant figures in management, a testimony to the influence they came under during that glorious period.

Having made an impact in Scotland, Aberdeen went on the rampage in Europe. They’d already shown they meant business by testing European champions Liverpool as they defended their crown, but a subsequent run in the European Cup Winners Cup in 1983 was when Ferguson’s work came to fruition.

In the course of the run they managed to dismiss Bayern Munich over two legs, drawing 0-0 in the Olympiastadion, then coming from behind twice to snatch victory with two late goals in a remarkable 3-2 victory. Belgian cup holders Waterschei were swept aside in the semi-finals, leading to the most remarkable of finals: a rendezvous with Alfredo di Stefano’s Real Madrid at the Ullevi in Stockholm.

As one might expect, the Aberdeen fans travelled in droves, 14,000 of them cheerfully boisterous to the last and surely finding it hard to believe their side had landed such a remarkable date at Europe’s top table. Their side’s indefatigable spirit and genuine quality meant they were a force to be reckoned with though, but they were up against a side with great pedigree, of course.

Three years earlier Real had reached the European Cup final, where they were defeated by Liverpool. Now they were looking to end a European drought which stretched back to the 1966 European Cup victory of the Ye-yé team with a side featuring Jose Antonio Camacho, Uli Stielike, Santillana and Juanito.

They’d shown their quality in the quarter-finals when they were pitted against Inter. They fell behind at the San Siro, but Ricardo Gallego struck in the second half to earn a draw, and they had to show character at the Bernabeu as well. At half time Alessandro Altobelli’s goal had given Inter the lead, but the tie turned on a dramatic five minute period shortly after the break. José Antonio Salguero equalised, and then Santillana pounced to clinch a 3-2 aggregate victory.

The last four could have seen a clash with eternal rivals and defending champions Barcelona, but they feel to a shock defeat in the quarter finals at the hands of Austrians Rapid Vienna.

Toni Polster struck just four minutes into the first leg to raise the possibility that Rapid would complete a memorable double and eliminate both Spanish giants, but within two minutes Santillana had equalised. Still, Rapid struck back and took the lead again, only for Isidoro San José to clinch a 2-2 draw.

The second leg in Spain followed a familiar pattern. Once again Real struggled to finish the job after clinching a draw away from home; once again it was Santillana who came to the rescue.

He opened the scoring after just ten minutes, but Real failed to add to the lead and half way through the second half San José made amends for his first leg goal but putting the ball into his own net!

Real still held an advantage on away goals, but things were much more precarious now and they needed a couple of club legends to dig them out of trouble, Five minutes after San José’s moment of disaster Juanito put Real back in front on the night, and Santillana chipped in with another to ensure that Real went through comfortably…eventually.


Real obviously arrived as the favourites and European sophisticates, with Santillana deserving a winner’s medal to cap a fine European campaign which had seen him score seven goals, hitting the net in each of the four rounds. But Ferguson had filled his players with belief, and many have spoken subsequently of how he convinced them that Real were a weak team which they ought to beat.

His mind games extended to inviting Jock Stein, doyenne of Scottish management and the man who guided Celtic to their famous 1967 European Cup triumph over Inter, to accompany his side. Ferguson explained in his autobiography that Stein had told him to present Di Stefano with a bottle of whiskey before the match:

“Let him feel important,” said Jock, “as if you are thrilled just to be in the final.”

Stein’s inspirational presence also transmitted itself to the players, and Aberdeen started swiftly, and in the sixth minute Eric Black’s spectacular volley was tipped onto the bar by Agustín, the keeper making up for the mishit clearance which had allowed the opportunity to occur in the first place. It was to prove a temporary reprieve though, and Gordon Strachan’s corner was helped on by Alex McLeish to Black, who headed the ball in to give Aberdeen the lead

Their advantage would only last eight minutes, although the equaliser came about in fortuitous circumstances. Heavy rain had meant the match wasn’t certain to go ahead, and although efforts were made to clear standing water from the Ullevi pitch, it was still sodden throughout the game.

No doubt that inconvenienced Real in general terms as they were unable to move the ball around the pitch as they might have wished, but they profited from the conditions when Alex McLeish forgot to take the damp pitch into account and hit a horribly under-powered backpass from thirty yards out.  Swiftly, Santillana latched onto it and raced around goalkeeper Jim Leighton, who lunged full length and pulled him down. Lucky for him that the red card for a professional foul wasn’t a mandatory punishment then: the referee pointed to the spot but took no further action, and Juanito lashed the ball home to make it 1-1.

Real pressed home their advantage and dominated the rest of the half, but couldn’t find a way through a stubborn defence marshalled well by Dons skipper Willie Miller.

Matters appeared to worsen for Aberdeen when they were forced to make a change at half time, Eric Black being replaced by John Hewitt. However, Hewitt would turn out to be the match winner.

He’d have to wait until extra time for his moment of glory though. Aberdeen recovered to enjoy the better of the second half, but Agustín denied a Strachan volley with his legs and then averted a late catastrophe when he pounced on a loose ball after he’d dropped a Peter Weir cross.

With just eight minutes of extra time left, Mark McGhee set off on a  determined run down the left wing before slinging a perfect ball into the box, where Hewitt ran onto the cross without checking his stride and headed the ball past Agustín for the winner.

Simpson missed a glorious opportunity to put the tie beyond Real’s grasp, and could have been made to pay for it with seconds remaining. A free kick was awarded on the edge of the Aberdeen area which came to nothing but the referee demanded it be taken again as he wasn’t ready. With nerves shredded on the terraces, Salguero stepped up and lashed in a terrific low shot on the goalkeeper’s side – a proper toebuster which seared in a low trajectory before suddenly picked up height as it travelled towards goal. It just cleared the wall and looked goalbound, but whistled narrowly past the post and into the puddles behind the goal.

And that was that. Jim Leighton took the goal kick and the referee blew the final whistle. Aberdeen had overcome Real Madrid, the fledgling Ferguson had overwhelmed di Stefano, and a legend of the game had made his first real imprint on the European stage.

Meanwhile, Saint Mirren came fifth in the Scottish Football League.

Osasuna’s exercise in magnificent futility

Are Osasuna about to set a new standard? They could end the season as the best awful team of all time.

For much of the season, La Liga pundits have been united in their view of the relegation scrap: ” Stick a fork in it, it’s done.”
Their logic is compelling: the bottom three are awful and would need the best part of the season to accumulate enough points to catch the total the sides they are chasing already have. As those sides are ultra-minnows Leganes and the dismal Valencia, that’s saying something.
It’s true though: if they score points in the second half of the season at the same rate they have done so far, there won’t be many games left by the time they hit Leganes’ total, assuming the side from the Madrid suburbs don’t gain any in the meantime.
Yet something is rumbling in Pamplona. Something exciting. Something entertaining. Something futile, but fun. Osasuna, under their third coach of the season, seem to have rediscovered their identity, even if they haven’t rediscovered their ability to win points. Watching their doomed efforts to wriggle themselves into the safety zone is a little like trapping a wasp under your upturned pint glass to enliven a sunny afternoon in a beer garden; there’s a certain “there but for the grace of God” compulsion to it, unless you’re a Sporting or Granada fan and know your team can’t even summon up that level of pointless struggle.
The defeat to Real Madrid summed Osasuna’s plight up perfectly. They were magnificent, defiant and defeated. With Sergio León suddenly in extravagant form and Real looking oddly ill-at-ease, Osasuna showed heart and quality in the first half, fighting back to equalise and dominating long periods of play.
The league leaders fought back to inevitably get the three points. Inevitably because that’s what league leaders do, and inevitably because Osasuna have specialised in feisty failure since club president Luis Sabalza flexed his itchy trigger finger for the second time this season.
Out went Joaquín Caparrós, and in came sporting director Petar Vasilijević. Sabalza announced “We have a crucial month ahead of us and we felt it was the right time to make the change.” He was right: massive six-pointers against Valencia and Granada were the first two obstacles the Serb had to negotiate.
Sabalza got a response. Under Vasilijević, Osasuna have rediscovered the traditional values the club embodies. Spirit, aggression and directness have returned to a club which relishes its underdog status and, in the good times, made El Sadar an unpleasant stadium to visit with their combative manner both on the pitch and in the stands.
Vasilijević’s Osasuna has heart, as befits a club whose name conjures up notions of vitality, and has stoked a new sense of noisy belief in the stands. But despite a significant improvement in their performances, they’re still dropping points hand over fist.
In seven games he’s won four points and is still awaiting his first win.There are extenuating circumstances around some of their results under him. But sob stories aren’t points.
The Valencia match saw a new cutting edge up front as an injury time equaliser clinched a 3-3 draw, and a new spirit as they equalised three times; then they led for nearly an hour at Granada, who clung on with nine men for a 1-1 draw.

Then came title contenders Sevilla, and again Osasuna were close to glory, but not close enough.Having lead twice, they were level with ten minutes left, but cracked and ended up losing 4-3.

They led with 11 minutes left against Malaga, but drew, then led at half time at high-flying Real Sociedad, but lost 3-2. Throw in a goalless away draw at Eibar in the Cope del Rey and there’s been a genuine stabilisation in performances. The spirit’s now willing, but the return remains weak. They’ve led in four of their six league matches and equalised four times in the other two.

It’s admirable.

It’s progress.

It’s over, isn’t it?

SLIDESHOW: CD Leganes v SD Eibar

The little clubs that can: Leganes and Eibar clash in La Liga.

SLIDESHOW: Atletico Madrid v UD Las Palmas

With just twelve league games left before they bulldoze the Estadio Vicente Calderon, Las Palmas make their final La Liga trip to the world’s first all-seater stadium.

What will Rafa Benitez’s demise at Real Madrid mean for Florentino Perez?

A penny for your thoughts Rafa. Understanding what’s going on in the now ex-Real Madrid coach’s head at the moment would be fascinating.

If nothing else, Benitez has given the impression throughout his career that he knows his own mind. Often his strength of opinion has ultimately been to the detriment of his job security: his desire to do things his way often rubs people up the wrong way, as his messy departure from Valencia and his grapples with internal politics at Inter showed. He doesn’t like having someone above him, telling him what to do, yet in the summer he finally took the job which has been seen as an inevitable embellishment to his CV, even though it meant working under the most manipulative football figure outside the halls of FIFA.

Florentino Perez is the sort of figure that draws derision from British fans: the club president with no football background who claims he knows more about the game than the professionals, and puts his money where his mouth is by essentially appointing himself Director of Football.

Benitez’s desire to return to Real clearly overwhelmed the logical part of his brain when he agreed to work under Perez. Perhaps he’s been able to win battles against Directors of Football in the past, although they ultimately tended to be pyrrhic victories, damaging him in the long term. However, here was a battle he couldn’t possibly win.

He lasted just seven months, but he looked like a lame duck for at least half that time. Some might argue, with justification, that he was a dead man walking the moment he was appointed, with sections of the afición and the press on tenterhooks, waiting for things to go wrong.

It might be argued that Benitez would have lost the job earlier if Perez had not positioned his coach between himself and the firing squad, his survival underpinned not by a desire to give him a chance, but Perez’s realisation that giving him the shove would expose him.

The defeat to Barcelona, humiliating as it was, felt like a point of no return even though the fact is that the sides were only separated by two points when Benitez took the fall. It wasn’t just the disjointed tactical mess which Real laid before their fans which made it feel significant though: it was those fans’ reaction. They didn’t turn on hate figure Rafa. They turned on his boss. That meant something had to happen.

Initially it seemed that the consequence was Perez using Benitez as a human shield. Benitez would inevitably go in the Summer, but if he could deflect criticism from Perez he might still be of use. However, the atmosphere has merely become even more poisonous. For heaven’s sake, Real scored ten goals in their penultimate home game, but no-one seemed terribly happy about it. Even the goodwill banked by scoring eight in their previous home game didn’t count for much. If that isn’t a definition of an unhealthy club, then what is?

Or let’s put it another way.  Rafa Benitez has been sacked after a run of seven wins in nine games. Since losing to Barsa, their only failures have been an admittedly weak showing at Villarreal and Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Valencia. That would be a draw away to one of the biggest clubs in Europe, unbeaten at home in the league since 2014, in which Real were generally the better side and were winning with seven minutes left despite having been down to ten men with half the second half still to play. Those are high standards. Impossibly high standards, perhaps.

There have been unsatisfactory themes running through that pretty successful run of results, of course. The officials certainly helped the last two home wins, Ronaldo is clearly not the player he was, and then there was the Copa del Rey fiasco. Yet surely only the mediocre showings against Rayo and Real Sociedad could be traced back to Benitez, and the ugly manoeuvring of Ronaldo towards the exit, setting him up to look bad in the way Mesut Özil was treated, is all the president’s work. There are mutterings that James Rodriguez might be getting the same treatment.

Marcelo Bielsa said when you look into the eyes of your new boss, remember that he will be the man who sacks you one day. Just sayin'
Marcelo Bielsa said when you look into the eyes of your new boss, remember that he will be the man who sacks you one day. Just sayin’

Perez recently imposed some comically prohibitive conditions on prospective challengers to his presidency. He seems untouchable, but so did Sepp Blatter. Even Machiavelli was removed, tortured and exiled by the Medicis in the end. Perez has now discarded his human shield and appointed a legend of the game who, nevertheless, only has coaching experience at a very low level. It sounds like another bad decision. Could he possibly have exposed himself at last?

Is Levante’s Pretty-Ugly Fairy Tale Finally Over?

Never ever give up
Inspirational jackets can’t save Levante now

As I watch Levante crash to a 4-0 defeat at home to Real Sociedad, a performance described by the Revista podcast as the worst by any team in La Liga so far this season, a kid sits in front of my wearing a coat bearing the slogan “Never EVER give up.” He left before the end.

To be fair, an awful lot of the faithful did, and those that didn’t only hung around to show their side the contents of their pockets as they left the pitch.

Whte hankies at the final whistle
White hankies at the final whistle

The progressive reaction to the four goals followed the classic stages of football depression:

Goal 1: Shock.

Goal 2: Anger.

Goal 3: Early departure.

Goal 4: Ironic applause of the opponents.

And soon afterwards coach Lucas Alcaraz had paid with his job. You could never criticise him for a lack of effort as his touchline gurning and gesticulating makes Jurgen Klopp look like Niles Crane. A cruel critic might have asked whether there was anything behind his exhortations for hard work. If his preparation for this match had amounted to something more than hanging that kid’s jacket on the changing room wall and chanting “Never EVER give up.” at his team until their ears bled it didn’t show against La Real.

So does this mark the end of Levante’s gritty fairy tale? Sid Lowe wrote evocatively of the side’s glorious flirtation with the top of the table four years ago, dubbing their collection of gnarled journeymen “The Expendables” as they battled their way to the top of the table. They held on well enough to finish sixth and enjoy an unlikely European adventure the following season. And now it looks like they have come full circle.

In the week after Lowe’s article Levante actually took outright top spot in the league, ironically beating Real Sociedad 3-2. Just one day off the anniversary, La Real delivered the coup which cost Alcaraz his job and leaves the Granotes looking green around the gills. (I know frogs don’t have gills, but it’s so close to a good metaphor I had to follow it through).

By the end of the weekend, there was an even more poignant illustration of Levante’s decline. In a separate piece Lowe wrote of Raimon the groundsman, who arranges the SPanish teams’ flags in order of their league position on the flagpoles that run down the side of the pitch. It was a happy task four years ago; it will have been rather different this week as Raimon shifted Levante’s pennant to the last position on the right side of the stand.

The flags of the Liga sides, always arranged in league position. Levante ended up at the end of the row after this one.
The flags of the Liga sides, always arranged in league position. Levante ended up at the end of the row after this one.

So what has gone wrong? To put things in context, over-achieving is always a fragile business. Surviving in a league where the TV money doesn’t trickle down on crowds of between ten and fourteen thousand isn’t easy. Once you fail to get the fundamentals right, deterioration can set in fast, and three key factors have gone against Levante this year.

JIM announces his candidacy for the Valladolid job
JIM announces his candidacy for the Valladolid job

Firstly, their success has been on the back of some excellent coaching. The trouble is, when you show your quality at Levante the natural next step is to move on. Luis Garcia established the side in the top division in impressive style, and his predecessor, the much loved Juan Ignacio Martínez, took his work a step further. After a couple of sure-footed managerial appointments, the club’s luck was always likely to run out though – show me a club that have made three consecutive good choices of coach – and Levante haven’t bucked the trend. If Rubi, the new man, is a gem, then they might have a chance, but my money’s on him not being in the hot seat by the end of the campaign. Rubi’s credentials – a spell on the staff at Barsa and an isolated, albeit impressive, successful campaign at Girona in fifteen years of coaching, leave him feeling like a punt more than a sure thing. But then Levante were never in a position to draft in a sure thing, were they?

Rubi: just happy to be here
Rubi: just happy to be here

Secondly, any good players Levante might uncover are always going to snapped up by someone with more cash. From Felipe Caicedo through Arouna Koné to Kaylor Navas, players have moved on to bigger and better things. It’s hard to constantly dig up diamonds in the rough, so there’s bound to be an inevitable creep downwards in quality. If you want a graphic illustration of this point: consider this. Navas, on current form for Real Madrid, might just be the best keeper in the world. They’ve replaced him with Rubén, whose most memorable contribution to a Levante match was this, when he was a Málaga player. Clearly he stuck in the Levante scouts’ minds!

So who have Levante lined up as their latest find, to groom and sell on? Deyverson is an interesting striker, but there’s work to be done if he’s to make a step up from here: a blunt performance against Real was prematurely ended by a red card for diving, which summed up his and his team’s day.

A red for Deyverson
A red for Deyverson

And then what do you have? Nabil Ghilas is fun to watch if you’re a neutral and enjoy seeing a chunky lad put himself about a bit, show flashes of quality, and threaten to do something decisive without ever quite managing it. He’s probably not so much fun to watch if you’re relying on him to pull something out of the fire for your team, and he’s not even Levante’s if they wanted to turn a profit on him.

And then there’s Roger, who runs about a lot.


Ghilas is fun to watch if you’re a neutral and enjoy seeing a chunky lad put himself about a bit

The third issue is hard to define, never mind to address. The quality of players haemorrhaging out is one thing; their character is quite another. Losing leaders like Sergio Ballesteros is not an issue which is easy to address. Juanfran remains, but his half time substitution against Real Sociedad illustrated the danger of relying on a 39-year old to hold your defence together and provide character. Juanfran has been a fine player and a great servant to the Expendables,  but there comes a time when even their value expires.

The cruel thing about it all is that while the dismissal of Alcaraz was inevitable, the Real defeat really did illustrate one of the classic patterns of football, played out throughout the ages. There were signs of promise in the last couple of weeks. Okay, they’d lost five of the last seven, which is relegation form in anyone’s book. But some of those performances offered up hope. Obviously there was the derby win over Villarreal, a terrific victory against a side tilting at top spot and in fine form.

Admittedly the Yellow Submarine had a player dismissed in the first half but still, the way a usually progressive side retreated so completely into their shell said something about how Levante imposed themselves on the game. Anyone who saw José Luis Morales and Toño ripping down the flanks and delivering a stream of crosses into the box would have thought this was a side with something about it.

The following week Levante arrived at El Bernabéu and showed plenty of cojones in a 3-0 defeat which saw them stretch their former keeper Navas when the result had yet to be cemented. They’d also shown heart to fight back from two down to claim a draw against Eibar, La Liga’s feistiest side.

But that’s how football goes, isn’t it? Teams start to show promise, often exhibiting fight in defeat against superior opponents, and you hope that level of performance will be sustained and lead to an improvement in results. But once they come up against beatable opposition, all that promise melts away and the cold facts of six points from nine games is all that’s left. The street smarts of Garcia, the quality of Navas, the heart of Ballesteos were all gone. So what’s left for Levante?

SLIDESHOW: Levante UD v Real Sociedad

The Final Week of San Mames

There might be one more, meaningless game to come, but last weekend saw the final game at San Mames, the first football ground built in Spain. It looks its age, but it’s packed with history. The new stadium, already overshadowing the old and waiting for its opportunity to engulf it, has a lot to live up to.

Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo)

Scouting isn’t rocket science! Every time a Premier League side signs a good foreign player the nation goes crazy. Who is this mystery guy? Where did he come from? Anyone with a decent knowledge of the game outside the UK would have known that the likes of Santi Cazorla, Oscar and Papisse Demba Cissé were likely to succeed, and there are plenty more of them out there. So who’s the next “secret” star to watch out for? Who is the next Cabaye?
Now here’s a player who, through the course of the season, has sent me from pillar to post as I try to work out just how highly I rate him. With a move to Anfield apparently done and dusted, it’s time for me to make a final decision so I can spend next season seeing if my judgement was accurate or not!

Around Christmas I thought made a bit of a mistake about Iago Aspas. Writing a preview for the excellent Forza Futbol I rather lazily followed the judgement of an ex-player rather than my own instincts, and suggested that although Celta’s Iago Aspas was gifted, he lacked the intelligence to make the step up to a higher level. I was going against my gut instinct as he’d enjoyed a good start to the season. Soon I suspected I should have stuck to my guns: Aspas continued to appear to have class. Then the Galician derby came along and made me reassess him once more!

Aspas really caught the eye in the Spanish second division last season, when his prolific form was the key factor in Celta’s return to the top division. This season, he’s been their chief hope of survival.

iago_aspas_2Going into today’s final, decisive match of the season he has twelve goals and six assists, not bad for a club which has struggled all year. The fact that five of those goals have come on the road speaks well of him too: Celta have been moderate at home and dreadful away, but at least Aspas has been turning up when the going has been tough rather than performing in home games when circumstances have been easier.

However, just when my positive opinion of him was solidifying, along came the crucial derby at Deportivo. The stakes were massive, with both sides in dire danger of relegation. At the time it felt like only a win would be good enough for either side. You certainly couldn’t accuse Aspas of not caring. The problem is, just when Celta needed a big performance from their star player, he cared too much!

Expulsión de Aspas by Samuyamismo

His act of madness, a crazy headbutt on Carlos Marchena, came in the 29th minute when Depor were leading 1-0. It led to his sending off, Celta went on to lose 3-1 and he picked up a four game suspension.

He’s come back into the side and looked to make amends, with two goals in five games, but can he be trusted in pressure-cooker matches? He’s never scored in the Galician derby which means so much to him, and disciplinary problems have dogged his career. Marchena is as crafty as they come and no doubt ensnared him in one of his non-too-subtle Machiavellian ploys; Aspas will find plenty of players in the Premiership who will look to provoke him if word of a suspect temperament spreads.

He’s worked hard this season to contain his temper – until that derby – but has tended in the past to open his mouth before thinking. Maybe moving to a country where he doesn’t speak the language well enough to get himself into trouble won’t be a bad thing.

A classy striker, happy dropping deep, deadly on his left foot, Aspas has made the transition to the highest level smoothly this season. In fact, he’s shown many of the attributes Luis Suarez has shown for Liverpool: he’s a similar player in many ways, happy to roam in the second line and cut in from the flanks, but possessing the penalty area instincts to play as a Number Nine. Pity his similarities with Luis Suarez don’t end on the pitch.

He might not possess those positive attributes to quite the same level as Suarez, but has been fairly prolific as he drifts around, feeding off the likes of Michael Krohn-Dehli, so he ought to find the improved service from Steven Gerrard and co to his liking.

There was a lot of talk of Arsenal having a look at him earlier in the season, and it made perfect sense to me. He needed to make a move to that level of club. Now he has, it’ll be fascinating to see how he adapts.