It has been a honeymoon of almost 2,100 days. Since Manu García scored with his soul on a night in August 2016 until yesterday a relegated Levante overcame Joselu's goal with three goals in the second half. 226 games: more losses (105) than wins (68), more goals regretted (322) than celebrated (219). A Cup final, a resurrection, a pandemic, too much heartless football, a decaffeinated centenary, ten coaches, a longevity record in the elite and a decline that had been threatening to demolish for some time. Of more less. From a lot to nothing. From touching glory to deserving hell.
On May 27, 2017, at the Vicente Calderón, the Glorioso, a recently promoted player, challenged all football hierarchies to fight for a title against the Barcelona of Messi, Neymar, Iniesta and company. The albiazul team reemerged powerfully again in search of the consolidation that had resisted them in their previous four stages in the First Division. The Pachecos, Laguardia, Manu, Kiko, Theo Hernández, Marcos Llorente... An irreducible squad that, led by Mauricio Pellegrino, screamed and claimed their place on the national scene.
Days of wine and roses. They are the exception in the centenary memory of a club accustomed to the continuous lurches of its history. Being from Alavés is living on a roller coaster of sensations. Ups and downs that intimidated again at the beginning of the following course, clouded by the experiments of Zubeldia and Biasi and revived by Abelardo and the resurrection of Montilivi. One of those indelible games that mark dynamics, whose trail would last until the following season, when the team from Vitoria signed the best first round of its history in the First Division (31 points), above the golden stage with Mané. The team would deflate in the second, but Alavés seemed to have found that rooting point in the category.
Saving without trouble, despite the initial anxiety of the second year, with a growing social mass and the best football atmosphere that the ancient Mendizorroza has ever breathed. What a great moment. This is how he also walked in the 2019-20 season. Erect, with his head held high, although the game did not invite dancing. A somewhat bland but solvent team that, with Asier Garitano on the bench, had a seven-point lead over relegation when the virus stopped society and confined the ball. The business - without fans is not football - continued to turn later, but something then broke in the albiazul locker room so that that sober block burst until it led to the sad habit of decline.
47 losses in 84 games since then. 56%. And two agonizing saves, with Muñiz first and Calleja later. Along the way, Josean Querejeta had questioned the professionalism of the players after the pandemic, Lucas Pérez was the public image of a rarefied environment, the great captain had to leave through the back door, Joselu wanted to go to Sevilla... Until the centenary, due to the strange social circumstances, tiptoed through Mendizorroza. And Alavés was already a team adrift and without any identity that neither Machín, nor Abelardo, nor Calleja himself, nor Mendilibar nor now Velázquez knew how to redirect, the last desperate swerve.
Too many coaches with disparate styles, an unequivocal symptom of instability. Some did not continue by personal decision, such as Pellegrino or 'Pitu' in its first stage, but there are many projects that have been guillotined or patched up at the drop of a hat. With very limited templates that could only aspire to survive one more year in a category that was beginning to be loose. The Alavés who had surprised everyone on his return was getting smaller and smaller. The theory of involution. And that record of consecutive seasons in the First Division deserves both the previous praise and the current reflection.
Because no one misses the fall when it takes so long on the wire. Too little football and too much emotional stress. The descent does not come from now. Because living like this wears out. To the coaches, to the players, to the club... And to the fans, of course, that he is the one who suffers the most and suffers because of the shield. And the limited capacity at the start of this season already put figures to a certain social disaffection. He plays analyze and learn. Do self-criticism to regain momentum in the silver category. And resurface powerful again.