Season in Review

30th June is a marked day in many football calendars around the world as it sees the end of one season and the start of another with many contracts traditionally finishing on this date. As such it is fitting that we post our 2016/17 season review today as the football world begins to turn its attention to the 2017/18 season.

Gib Utd.png

United moved fast and quick in the heady days of the summer of 2016 to secure several marquee signings. GFA regular Jamie Bosio joined from Lincoln FC after completing his studies and he was joined by the Hernandez brothers from Man 62. Jason Pusey, Paul Podesta, Ashley Rodriguez, Aymen Mouehli, Erin Barnett Dani Wink and Jesse Victory all signed for the club in a bid to challenge for a place higher up in the league.

A mixed preseason saw an inconsistent run of results as Manolo gelled in so many new faces into the squad. So many new players in key positions meant that there was an unfamiliarity and lack of chemistry that takes time to foster. Yet as is his want, the manager drilled the squad hard in preseason to have them ready for a late September kick off against Manchester 62.


United’s first game of the 16/17 Season

Robert Montvio promised to carry on where he had left off the previous year by netting a brace that earned United a point when perhaps they should have got three. After one game the league took its first hiatus for International Football and Jeff Wood called up a number of United players and its also provided an opportunity for new players to gel with their new team mates. Games against recently crowned European Champions Portugal and the first FIFA World Cup Qualifiers for Gibraltar followed.

The league continued mid October with United facing tough opposition in champions Lincoln, 3rd placed St Joseph’s and in Mons Calpe the surprise package of the season. 3 defeats left us 7th hovering above Europa Point, Lions and Lynx FC. Our first win of the season came against the latter with yet another Montovio goal. United had showed great maturity in their play and the results against Lincoln in particular showed the progress made.

United were dealt a major injury blow early in the season when defensive stalwart, Brad Power, succumbed to a major injury that was to leave him out of the game for a long time. Jason Pusey stepped into the breach and became the defensive rock Manolo built his defence. Erin Barnett was his constant companion flanked by Pishu and Perez. A dour 0-0 draw against Lions FC augured what was to come however.


Robert in action vs Lincoln Red Imps

The Red and Whites next tasted ‘victory’ in a forfeited match in early December but broke off for the Christmas with a tremendous morale booster of a 3-1 win over Man 62 in which Paul Podesta scored a spectacular long range effort to seal the win. The Red and Whites however entered a very negative spiral of results that threatened to unhinge the whole season.

In a run of 12 matches from January to April, United garnered two points and went 6 games without scoring as the dependable John Wayne (aka Robert Montovio) found that his powder had gone somewhat dry. A 93rd minute loss to basement club Europa Point saw United at their lowest ebb as the spectre of relegation loomed large. January had also seen club stalwarts Jared Buhagiar and Carl Thomas leave the club, they had a combined appearance total of 125 and would now don the claret and blue of Glacis United. EL Andalussi and Marquez were transferred to Mons Calpe while evergreen Robba resigned for the club alongside Paul Grech.

Gibraltar United also showed that it was committed to its civic duties when it supported a charity initiative by Stuart Felice and joined him for his Dip a Day on a cold, wet but fun March afternoon at Camp Bay.

April 2017 however brought the most momentous news in the Club’s recent history. News broke that former Real Madrid and Spain international Michel Salgado, alongside Dubai based banker Pablo Dana, had bought the club. There was an immediate stir of excitement, not only among United supporters, as Michel Salgado landed on the Rock on the 4th April 2017 to announce not only his purchase of the club but also a partnership with Turicum Private Bank as the club’s main sponsor. Michel met all the teams in the Youth Division as well as the Senior squad. Morale was on the up and the effect was immediately felt on the field.

Turicum Logo 2016, white on blue background, two lines - 2 June 2016

United had rediscovered their form. A battling point against St Joseph’s was followed by two more draws and a much needed victory against Glacis United that pulled United away from the relegation places and into safety. Both Hernandez brothers scored against Glacis United with Pishu showing a composure beyond his years to seal the win very late on. Despite a catastrophic result against Europa FC, United saw the season out in 7th place, an improvement on last season and with solid foundations being laid for a more promising 2017/18 season as the Salgado era began.

The club finished the season with a massive recruitment drive and held youth trials at the stadium for over 130 young  players and held a charity Gala night in which £5,000 was raised for the Calpe House trust. Club legend Adolfo Ramriez was named the Club’s Life Honorary President. Oh yes and just the small matter of a World Cup and Champions League Winner, Brazil legend called Roberto Carlos being the club’s guest of honour!


Vi et Animo, Ad Victoriam!

Summer Transfer Window 2016

Having achieved the target of staying in the top flight, Gibraltar United’s football department got its boots on sharpish and delved sharply into the transfer market to try and get ahead of the other teams amid rumours of new regulations that would introduce a set number of locals in the starting line up thus making the Gibraltarian football player a commodity.

The manager had given the Board and Committee the players he wanted signed and the positions he wanted reinforced and the club made a major effort to try and meet the targets set. Bruno’s Magpies forward Max Bothen was the first player to sign, Manolo having been impressed with his physique and powerful forward play in Division 2. He eagerly accepted the challenge to play in the Premier Division and quickly put pen to paper. Paul Podesta, a player of similar characteristics, also resigned for the club. Paul signed on last summer but an injury relapse meant that he had to drop out before a ball was kicked in anger. Having been given a clean bill of health he once again took up the challenge to don the red and white.

Manolo had also asked for more quality in midfield and the next four acquisitions saw to that. GFA internationals Jamie Bosio and Anthony Henrnadez were to join from Lincoln and Manchester 62 respectively. One adding grit and power to our midfield the other a touch of finesse and class. Anthony was joined by his brother Andrew while Lions FC’s midfield terrier Ashley Rodriguez would also bolster the middle of the park. His tenacious performances had certainly caught the eye last year and he was one of the top midfielders in the division.

The defence was another area that needed reinforcing. Jason Pusey joined from Man 62 bringing composure and a commanding presence at the back. Aymen Mouheli also joined from Lions. He had recently received his Gibraltarian Nationality meaning he qualified as a local as per the club’s philosophy. Another classy addition to the centre of the defence. Jesse Victory was prised away from Manchester 62 while Dion Hammond came in from Glacis United FC. The latter however would be finishing his studies in the UK and despite impressing in pre-season we will surely see the best of him next year. GFA International Erin Barnett was a deadline day signing from Lions FC, another marquee signing and once again stating the club’s intention to push on from last year. Dani Wink came in as cover for Chino and so did highly rated young keeper Tyron Oton from Lincoln’s U17s. Tyron has pedigree in the club’s history as his grandfather is the famous ‘Tiger’ of years past.

Ins unfortunately mean outs too. The Gilbert brothers both left to join Europa FC, no doubt benefiting from the local players rule. Andrew Lopez signed for Man 62 while Adrian Lopez dropped a division to sign for Olympique 13. Alan Parker joined a very ambitious Mons Calpe team while Jaydan Catania, Ayden Viñales and Dylan Borrell are all in UK pursuing their studies. A number of other players were also released as the manager expressed his desire to work with a squad of 25 players this season.

All in all some shrewd business dealings by the club.

Transfer Window Summary

Gibraltar United had a revolving door policy during the winter transfer window with a large number of players leaving and coming into the club. 1st January saw a long list of releases. Lee Buhagiar had been forced to quit due to a fairly serious injury. Aaron Collado was also released, a big blow for the club seeing the solid partnership that won us the title last year leave our defensive lines. Justin Collado was also released leaving his right wing berth for others to fight for. Striker Lee Muscat also left the club without making a single appearance in the Premier Division, subsequently signing for Olympique 13 in Div 2. Matthew Massetti, another member of last year’s title winning squad also asked for a release, he has begun a 3 month secondment abroad due to work commitments and we wish him well. William Gracia was also released by the club. Midfield maestro Mark Casciaro also decided to call it a day and was released on amicable terms. Shane Crisp hung up his boots and joined the committee to continue serving his club!

Abderrakman Bakkari joined St Joseph’s FC and left the club after signing in August. Another summer signing to leave was Sean Mascarenhas. He had found playing difficult to come by and has signed for Mons Calpe SC in Division 2. Kenneth Chipolina’s loan was terminated and he was returned to his parent club Lincoln FC, he has since signed for Red Imps in the Second Division.

But perhaps the most stunning piece of transfer news surrounded goalkeeper Liam Neale. A summer recruit from Glacis United, Liam was frustrated due to the lack of match time. A protracted negotiation followed with Lions FC which resulted in Liam leaving the club to join the Oranges.

Into the club came Ashley Perez from St Joseph’s and Carl Elull and Stefan Cumbo from Mons Calpe, the latter both ex Gib Utd players. Stefan being an integral part of least season’s Championship side. Aziz Aitlachen also rejoined the club signing on a 6 month deal.

A glut of players were also signed to flesh out our squad. Former Glacis Utd man Thomas Laguea joined youngster Jonny Vella and former Lincoln youth player Jamie Elull in signing for the club. David Gallardo had already rejoined the club as a Free Agent mid-way during October, establishing himself as Brad’s defensive partner.

Former Man 62 defender Derek Asquez was acquired from Mons Calpe SC while long serving former Lincoln defender Neal Medina also signed for the club mid way through January. Dexter Panzavechia joined the club from Glacis United on deadline day.

Striker Lython Marquez and defender Jaydan Catania arrived from Lions FC as part of the Liam Neale deal while Evan Green joined on loan until the end of the season. Young keeper Ayden Viñales also joined the club from Lions FC. All in all a very profitable transfer window for the club reinforcing in key areas that were in need of fresh new blood.