Cordoba’s spell in Spain’s top flight is set to be a short one. After reaching the Primera Liga for the first time in 47 years, the Andalusians have lost nine games in a row, are at the bottom of the table and are eight points behind Deportivo La Coruna, in 17th. The pair meet on Wednesday night in Galicia and that gap is likely to increase to 11 points.
Cordoba fans have embraced top-flight football with enthusiasm. Their average crowd of 16,829 in the 21,389-capacity El Archangel Stadium is the 13th highest in the league. It’s also almost double that of last season, but the city of 329,000, Spain’s 12th biggest, should be able to support a first-division football team.
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The fans have been let down by a chaotic club now under their third manager of the season and which has used 31 players, including 12 midfielders, more than any other team in the league.
Albert Ferrer, the former Barcelona defender who led Cordoba to a promotion via the play-offs last season, was dismissed last October with his side winless after eight games. Former Valladolid and Valencia coach Miroslav Dukic then inspired an improvement which saw them beat Athletic Bilbao, Rayo Vallecano and Granada, the fellow Andalusian side which knocked them out of the Copa del Rey at the first stage.
Cordoba rose as high as 14th in January when they were narrowly defeated 2-1 by Real Madrid, but that defeat sparked the current 10-game losing run, and it wasn’t only because their players were made to pay for swapping shirts with the Real Madrid stars by their own cash-strapped club.
Dukic was relieved of his duties last month and was replaced by interim coach Jose Antonio Romero. He had been in charge of Cordoba’s “B” team, but given they were in the penultimate position in Spain’s regional third tier, Romero’s appointment hardly inspired the players and they have continued to struggle.
In their latest defeat, against Atletico Madrid at home, Cordoba looked devoid of spirit and tactical acumen. It is as if the players already know they are going down.
There have been bright spots. Former Manchester United winger Bebe arrived on loan from Benfica and has been their best player, but he will return to Lisbon at the end of the season.
Cordoba have suffered a baptism of fire in the Primera Liga, but if their huge support can be harnessed, they could make a better go of it if they to return.
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