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REVIEW SEASON 2011/12: THE PRESIDENT

11 Jun 2012
Last season’s relegation was the biggest failure of Lendoiro after two decades at Deportivo, but before lamenting the outcome this veteran president begun a new project and one year later his club was where it was before. Redemption is a rare and special thing.

It´s hard to be a fan seeing the loved team going down relegated, but worse is the situation for the presidents of the clubs as they are the men under fire. At recent relegated clubs, Racing Santander and Sporting Gijón, the fans are still waiting for news from their presidents.

At Depor things were different, because Augusto César Lendoiro was the first men at the press room facing the journalists after the relegation was consumed in the clash against Valencia CF. This was his biggest setback after twenty years at the club, but somehow he was calmed and already thinking of what to do.

He told to reporters that, “We had many scoring opportunities. We have to understand that this is football and sometimes the ball doesn’t want to go in, we can only congratulate the winners. Today there were many. Since tomorrow we’ll start working in the new project, which is new life. We must return to the elite as soon as possible, because it is the place where we belong. This is just a step backwards.”

A big task was in front of him; he not even was forced to build up a new team and search for a new coach, now he also had to improvise and adjust the already poor economy of the club to the new reality of Segunda División. But for Lendoiro this was a new challenge instead of an impossible mission, and one week later he was already closing deals and offering press conferences, an unseen thing within his past years at the club.

The first task to complete was to sign a new coach and he only lasted one week in finding the chosen man: José Luis Oltra. After it the president concentrated his efforts it three targets: to compose the squad for the Segunda season, to motivate the fans and to search for vengeance against other clubs.



Lendoiro presenting the campaign to increase the number of socios
He moved quickly at the moment of composing the team, by the end of June he already had signed a couple of players and had decided to not extend the contract of men like Juan Rodriguez and Antonio Tomás. But it wasn’t easy to complete the squad, Depor’s boss received offers for Aranzubia, Colotto and Guardado, these last two men only had one more year in their contracts and the president risked not accepting the offers and allowing the possibility of not receiving a dime in the future, anyhow the most important thing for him was to secure the promotion, and for that he needed a strong team.

The last tough decision that he had to make was to allow the exit of Rubén Pérez, who desperately sought for the door out at the last day of the summer market; he left to Getafe CF and as exchange Deportivo welcomed Borja Fernandez, the last reinforcement that completed the 25-men squad. It can be said that he lost two battles in the quest to build up the new squad, the first was to miss the signings of the so wished new striker, the second was to lose Adrian, striker that went to Atletico Madrid in order to succeed.

In other front, Lendoiro battled against the clubs that were owing money to Deportivo, again and again he addressed the media firing against clubs like Real Zaragoza, Racing Santander, UD Las Palmas and Real Betis, he even requested the relegation of Real Zaragoza, something that was a resounding news at the moment, though later the protest was forgotten and filed by the courts.

More pleasant were the press conferences in which Lendoiro talked of the reaction from the fans, actually the reason why he was giving the press conference in the first place was to talk of the incentives in order to become a socio of the club. He even promised special gifts to the members if the club would reach the mark of 25,000 socios; it happened in the end and the president fulfilled his word as he established a contest that brought a car to a socio, plus scarves and other rewards for the rest.

Perhaps this was his biggest achievement: to increase the popularity and the sympathy for Deportivo among the people living in A Coruña and its neighborhoods. With the kick-off on the regular season, the president stepped back and gave a protagonic role to the coaches and players; he now avoided the press conferences, though he was always addressing the media after the matches at the Riazor.

But then Lendoiro faced its biggest challenge on the season: the legal battle against UD Vecindario, a Segunda B club that was demanding Depor for a broken collaboration deal, they took the case to the LFP and this instance blocked the coaching license of Oltra, reason why the Valencian trainer watched the games from the stands for almost two months.



Lendoiro with Celta’s president, Carlos Mouriño, the day of the Galician derby
For many weeks Lendoiro was criticized due to the slowness of the club to solve the issue, the lowest point occurred on October 3, the president gave a press conference and had a verbal fight with several journalists for the way they were treating Depor.

“I can assure you that for any ten lines that you write against the club, you only write one in favour of it. I didn’t read AS attacking la liga after they allowed the operation of Lafita, and it was unfair as they couldn’t assure us that they were going to pay us. We only read what La Voz and AS wrote; I will love you to be more emphatic about the debt of other clubs, like Las Palmas and Racing Santander. It seems that here only Depor owes money, but Deportivo is the club in Spain to whom they owe more money.” He complained that day. There was some criticism toward the president that day.

Since that day, apart from the post-game declarations in the home matches, Lendoiro only showed up twice; first in the shareholders meeting that took place in December, and then to announce the contest after the club passed the mark of 25,000 socios. Still, the pressure over the president disappeared as soon as the conflict with UD Vecindario was fixed, and also as the team climbed some positions until reaching the leadership in the league.

Perhaps one of the novelties on the season was that Lendoiro was usually travelling with the team; in past years he wasn’t used to travel with the players and the coaching staff, but now he wanted to support the players during the away clashes.

With the season reaching the final stages it was possible to perceive the tension, an unusual thing on him, just to remember what Lendoiro said after the last-minute victory at Gimnástic, “We are celebrating now, but in the previous play we were close to lose the game as they were close to score the 2-1, and this is football. The result isn’t definitive, but there’s no doubt that by scoring a goal at that moment it means that, if you win the next game at home supported by 35,000 fans, then you will be at Primera División. “But nobody could think that it will be easy, because we’ll have to suffer. We already suffered in crucial games at the Riazor; there was the match with RCD Espanyol that brought the liga; and there were others like last year´s game against Valencia and the match of the penalty against Valencia, so a lot still ahead. We can’t celebrate yet. “

And then the big day arrived, the day in which Deportivo clinched the promotion back to Primera División facing SD Huesca at the Riazor. For the first time in two decades Lendoiro showed his most human face and cried at the stands, it had been a long year for him and he couldn’t hide his feelings.

He later told to reporters that, “We have won. Now we can say it. It has been a long road, intense; thank God the suffering is ending in this game. We had two bullets, but the best is that we didn’t need to use the second. We achieved the goal today; it was the best, because the suffering was too big. Today is a reality. The fans have been great and today they were exemplary. It was pretty important to achieve the promotion. Any team spending more than two years at Segunda is condemned to failure, because in the second year there are lesser aids. Now it’ time to look for the friends and find the enough aids in order to build up a team that can bring hope.”



Lendoiro crying the day of the promotion
In resume Lendoiro did a great job, fulfilling the expectations and been the architect of this successful project. Truly he missed the war for Adrian and lived a difficult moment with the demand of UD Vecindario, but in a general sense he knew how to move his cards and surely is one of the happiest persons with the promotion of Deportivo to Primera División.

ARCHIVE NEWS JUN/11

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