There are numerous examples of football clubs who have overspent and immediately paid the price, but Deportivo La Coruna’s demise has been slower paced and far more cruel.
There have been so many moments in recent years where you’ve felt like this is the lowest moment and they will bounce back, but it’s been a slow downward spiral with the occasional moment of brightness just to make that demise even move cruel.
The highest points have undoubtedly been the La Liga and Copa Del Rey wins and regular Champions League football, while it still feels like a missed opportunity in 2004 where they couldn’t overcome Jose Mourinho’s Porto to reach a final against Monaco for Europe’s biggest prize.
Over the next few years they gradually had to accept becoming a mid table side and the “Superdepor” period gave way to the “Babydepor” era where they switched frim big money signings to trying to pick up talented youngsters from Barca and Real combined with those who were excelling with lesser teams.
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Those times still yielded some famous results and a top half finish was always expected, but it came to a thundering halt in 2011 when an 18th placed finish resulted in relegation – surely the wake up call had arrived.
In a way it actually looked like it did ignite something in the playing squad as they immediately returned to La Liga as champions, but it simply resulted in a yo-yo period where they went straight back down only to return again the season afterwards.
At least Depor did manage to re-establish themselves as a La Liga side although it was often a case of clinging on to that status, with the famous comeback against Barcelona on Xavi’s final Nou Camp outing being a rare high point to salvage safety on the final day:
Again that was a rare moment joy on the sinking ship as another relegation followed in 2018, and it led to a true sliding-doors moment the following season in the promotion play-offs.
Depor won 2-0 at home to Mallorca and everything looked rosy ahead of the return leg, but they simply didn’t show up and found themselves 3-0 down going into the final seconds of the game.
Now Arsenal defender Pablo Mari was gifted a golden opportunity in the final moment of the game to send Depor up on away goals – but his header drifted just past the post and Depor were finally set to spend two consecutive seasons in the second tier:
If you had told the fans that they would escape the division last season then they would’ve accepted that, but absolutely nobody would’ve anticipated it would be relegation to the third tier that would follow.
The relegation was utterly deserved with some woeful recruitment and the board going through a few more managers, but again the fans were offered some hope when the arrival of Fernando Vasquez promoted an amazing turnaround in form as a run of wins propelled them back towards the play-off places.
That was quickly eradicated as they managed to slide back towards the relegation zone, and it was finally confirmed without kicking a ball on the final day as Depor’s game against Fuenlabrada was called off at the final moment due to Covid-19 issues.
Depor were simply left to watch on in horror as multiple results went against them, and suddenly they woke up to realise they have sleepwalked their way into the third tier.
Again some hope was presented as multiple lawsuits suggested they might be allowed to stay up or the league would even create an extra place due to the shambles of the situation surrounding that Fuenlabrada game, but they lost those fights and there was nothing left to do but accept their fate.
Thankfully they managed to keep a strong squad together and it was expected that they would steamroller the division, but they currently sit with a record of seven goals scored after eleven games and it’s not even clear if they will make the promotion play-off stage this time round.
The season actually opened fairly brightly with fans in the ground to see a last minute winner on the opening day, but it faded quickly and the lowest moment undoubtedly came when Depor lost a league game to the B team of their biggest rivals – Celta Vigo.
Vasquez was eventually sacked for refusing to budge from his philosophy of playing with every man behind the ball but this season has epitomised everything that’s wrong with Depor just now – they look utterly shell-shocked and don’t know how to get themselves out of this.
There are plenty of players at the club who were there for the relegation season and they still appear to be traumatised by that, while Vasquez was unable to turn the mentality around and the humiliation appears to be complete.
Finances are still a worry and it looks like they’ve had to sign over the naming rights to the Riazor to the bank and they also have a place on the board because the club owe them so much money, but they still have a budget that dwarves everyone else at this level.
The best thing about this club is the fans and they will still continue to turn out in great numbers once they are allowed back into the ground, but it does make you wonder what happens now.
They’ve been through so many managers in recent years (12 different appointments since 2015) that you would assume they’ll get it right eventually, but the appointment of Ruben De La Barrera hasn’t changed a thing.
He’s largely unknown in Spain and his main credential appears to be that he’s from the City of A Coruna, so it seems safe to assume that he’ll be gone by the summer.
You have to hope that the season will turn around and they can slowly start to climb the ladder again, but there will always be that fear that the lowest moment still hasn’t been reached.