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José Bordalás brings life to Getafe as intense approach reaps rewards | Sid Lowe

A little over a year ago, Getafe, were second bottom … of the second division. After handing Valencia their first loss, they’re two points off a European spot

“He calls in the defenders first: breaks a TV. He calls in the midfielders and he breaks a light. Calls in the strikers, breaks a sofa.” One of José Bordalás’s former players tells the tale and, although he’s laughing, he’s only half joking. The Getafe manager began his coaching career in the third division nearly 24 years ago and there are other moments like it, not far beneath the carefully-cultivated impeccable appearance, breaking beyond the tidy beard and smart glasses: benches have borne witness, press rooms too, and that’s just the public displays. There have been fridges kicked and doors punched, tactics boards butted. “He has his foot up against your throat and doesn’t let go,” says Juan Cala. The Getafe defender means it figuratively of course, but another says: “You sometimes wonder if he’s going to hit you.”

That player recalls Bordalás’s assistant chasing a team-mate around the training pitch, saying things, trying to wind him up. Before a game, a long time ago now, Bordalás made another hold a pencil between his nose and top lip, and cross his eyes. Now stay like that, he told him. He wanted them to go on the pitch wearing a “crazy face” to “terrify opponents”. Defenders were told to grab strikers, fight them. Every ball is a battle. “You spend the week building to the game, all week. And every game it’s like you’re playing for your life; if you don’t win it’s an absolute disaster,” Cala says. Another footballer calls him “a bit peculiar”, but he’s certainly not stupid. Asked to define him in a phrase, here’s an answer: “Very, very, very intelligent.”

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