Lamar Odom or how to excite fans with just a signing

Some teams fall into depression when a bad streak creates a climate of uneasiness and takes fans out of the venue. Although they have being loyal during seasons, there is a point where it is not worth attending to matches as now better times are gone and only melancholic memories of a glorious past remain.

Managers need to react and try to involve people again by creating excitement, passion. The objective, to fill again the empty seats.

In that sense, Laboral Kutxa’s CEO Josean Querejeta made a master movement signing the NBA superstar Lamar Odom. Querejeta, one of the smartest sports managers of the world, became Santa for a day and brought a present that no Baskonia fan could imagine. There was no gossip about the signing in the days before and suddenly, fans saw the two NBA tittles winner Lamar Odom landing in Vitoria and turning up for his presentation.

It was absolutely shocking for both the team’s fans and sports lovers from all over the country. “Lamar Odom” was trending toping in Spain and the news sports sections talked about Laboral Kutxa. It was almost a social event, with the city major attending his presentations and receiving him as a political personality.

The team, a serious contender for Euroleague Championship some years ago and used to win trophies in Spain, has suffered a spiral that  brought the team into mediocrity. They have  win nothing since 2010. From then on major teams in Europe signed the best players and due to financial cuts, the Basque team could not sign top-class players. Real Madrid and Barcelona established a bipolar dictatorship and Baskonia lost his high status.

In this season the situation seemed even worse, as they had to struggle hard for getting the Cup quallification, although they only need to be eight, and they are virtually eliminated from the Euroleague, where they have suffered several painful defeats.

In that context of pessimism and uneasiness, with fans booing the team after matches, Josean Querejeta signed Lamar Odom and since he arrived at Victoria, future seems brighter for the team. Fans are now hopeful about the remaining challenges of the team this season and there is no more resignation in the atmosphere surrounding the club.

Florentino Pérez, back in the middle 2000’s,  used this strategy when year after year the great Real Madrid endured disappointing seasons. He signed players like Bechkam, Figo, Michael Owen and more recently Gareth Bale that attracted people back to the stadium, sold out the stars’ t-shirts and in some way made people proud of their team again, despite the lack of tropies.

Sport is about feelings, emotions and mood and some smart CEO’s have discovered that signing a super-stars can turn pessimism, conformism and apathy into hope. And there is no other feeling that fills sport venues more than hope. The hope of watching your team regaining his former glory. That is really exciting.

Odom will debute tonight at 20.45. Laboral Kutxa will face Unicaja in a vital game if they want to keep on fighting for the Euroleague Quarter finals.

Here is a link for the game: http://goatd.net/71915/watch-laboral-kutxa-vitoria-vs-unicaja-malaga

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Pellegrini assumes Mourinho’s style

Who could imagine Pellegrini choosing defensive players to face Barcelona and after being defeated blaming the referee for the whole responsibility. City’s coach played Mourinho’s role yesterday, using the same strategy that the Portuguese used when he faced Barcelona during his 3 years in Spain. Defenssive teams plus blaming external determining factors.

Pellegrini changed first his style placing Kolarov as a midfielder and reinforcing his left wing, where Alves and Messi are supposed to move. He also gave the ball to the Spanish team, barely having the ball possession and confining the home team to defend and not to lose the game. That intimidating City, with two strikers and hunger for possesion and domination did not appear on the pitch. The plan was not to lose.

But what most defined Mourinho’s tyle during his stay in Spain was that he blamed the referee or any external factor when he failed. No self-criticism ever. And that is exactly what Pellegrini made yesterday in the post-match press conference. Blame the referee, for what he may be charged by UEFA, and not only by saying that he made mistakes, but saying that he favoured Barcelona on purpose. Such serious accusations are not usual in football as most assume that referee sometimes favours you and others harms.

Pellegrini also copied Mourinho in the League game against Mourinho’s Chelsea, where he placed Demichelis as a midfielder,like the Portuguese did with Pepe in big games. The result was again disappointing.

It is not the first time that Pellegrini blames the referee for a big defeat in Europe. Last year, when he reached quarter finals with Malaga, with the spanish team fighting expulsion from the following season’s European competition Pellegrini said that “It was difficult for a banned team to reach the semi-finals”.

Manchester City has spent hundreds of million in order to get Champions League glory and once they  overcome the groups phase, they will go no further as it seem impossible to get back in the draw. Their image yesterday was poor, but the worst was to watch Pellegrini charging against the referee instead of having picked a more offensive squad to dominate the game and seek the victory, as they did in most of Premier League games.

 

Zdenek Stybar conquers his third cyclo-cross World Championship

This blog is a space for minor sports and underground stories that are not usually launched in the main streams. In my humble opinion, cyclo-cross is the most amazing of the unknown sports. Although it is the little brother of cycling, there are few sports so exciting and thrilling, with riders fighting face to face riding full gas for an hour in a circuit full of mood, obstacles and mechanical.

Yesterday took place the World Championship in Hoogerheide, a race traditionally dominated by Belgians and riders from other mid-European countries. Nederlands, Italy, France, Spain, Germany and Cchec Republic have little tradition in this sport and only a few of them can snatch to Belgian rider a place in the Top 10.

Sven Nys was the favourite, all the more since Niels Albert crashed during the morning training and injured his wrist. The World Cup winner, the 23 years-old Lars Van der Haar had not been consistent in during the last couple of weeks and Zdenek Stybar, who had barely ridden on the mood this season, focused in his road race career, was not thought to beat Nys, that lately had mastered the final part of the season.

(Watch the highlights of the race)

But as laps passed, Nys rivals had to give up due to his strong pace and only Zdenek Stybar catch up and stuck at his wheel. The passed the last lap together and when everybody expected Nys’s attack and Stybar’s surrender, it occurred quite the contrary, Stybar, who had been pushing during the whole race, as it is usual in such a brave rider, struggled for the ultimate push and got some metres that Nys was not longer able to chase.

Both had won the World Championship twice, but a memorable race end up with the greatest cyclocrossman of the history giving up against a top class rider that had ridden little during the winter season.

The Cannibal Queen carries on her dictatorship

The female category brought us another exhibition from the greatest female rider of the history, both in race and in the mood. Marianne Vos did not give any chances for her rivals and dominated the whole race, all by herself since the first lap, to win her sixth world Championship in a row and seventh overall. She is only 26 years old. Needles to say how outstanding and one of a kind is this Dutch rider that every year continues widening her legend.

(Watch the full race)