Departure Lounge – Raul Albentosa
Following on from the last post on Ryan Shotton, herewith our Departure Lounge for Raul Albentosa.
For the sharper eyed of you, you will recognise the majority of this from a post I did on him at Christmas for the advent calendar, which was pretty much a departure lounge piece even 6 months ago.
Although by no means a major protagonist in season 2014/2015’s inexplicable collapse, his transfer and subsequent failure at Derby has become notoriously synonymous with that dreadful period.
When the Rams were first linked with Raul, there was plenty to get excited about. In need of a dominating centre half, the Rams were apparently “leading a host of clubs” willing to meet his moderate £600k buyout clause and that very weekend he was named in the La Liga team of the week. Although by no means a household name, Rams fans soon familiarised themselves with the fairy-tale rise of Eibar and the key role big Raul played for their team.
When the deal was done and news of Chris Evans escapades (private jets, flagging down their team bus etc. etc.) in clinching the same came through it was back slapping and high fives all around. After a promising debut against Chesterfield in the Cup, things began to go wrong.
Mystery injuries kept him out of a number of games which were later attributed to him forgetting his specialist inners for his boots, which in turn caused back problems. When he was fit, McClaren seemed to have little faith in him, regularly preferring a struggling/limited Bucko and the erratic/appalling (delete to taste in both cases) Ryan Shotton.
Add to that he couldn’t speak a word of English and his heavily pregnant wife had, understandably, decided to stay in Spain and you can understand how he may have found life tough.
When he did start to play, you could see his confidence draining. Clearly a stopper as opposed to a ball playing defender, his attempts to play out at the Ipro (60 yard punt down a channel, straight out for a goal kick) were nearly as painful as his cumbersome attempts to impose himself on games and his horrendous slicked back “mun” haircut.
After signing in mid January Raul only actually played 8 games for The Rams. He has to be a much better player than we saw and perhaps was simply just not suited to English football. Regardless of everything it would appear the Rams have turned a healthy profit on him and, let’s face it, how often do we say that!