The unforgettable era of Joaquín Peiró gave way to a brief, but memorable, campaign with Juande Ramos in the malaguista chair. And Juan Ramón Muñiz as second coach, a man who would be a key figure in what would be the Club’s future sports programme. The doubts, which almost always surfaced in the malaguistas environment in football’s elite preseason, were seeded in the new project in First Division.
Reforming a team with the stamp of the ‘Metropolitan Greyhound’ was no easy task, more so when he had to deal with the loss of the Club’s idols, like Contreras, Bravo, Roteta, Sandro, Dely Valdés and Dario Silva. Above all, the strike force lost almost half of the 30 goals scored per season guaranteed by the ‘Double D’. Just before the close of the summer market, Málaga made a signing who would turn out to be a ‘matador’ scoring twenty goals between League and Cup in that campaign: Salva Ballesta together with Uruguayan forward Diego Alonso and the Argentinean linchpin ‘Pocho’ Insúa would reinforce the key positions that were left most damaged.
Against so much change, the ‘Juande style’ rocked the team, with closed lines, united, strong under pressure in midfield, rapid transitions and an aggressive attack, that soon appeared in the League competition. Even if during this period six games on the trot were lost, the team managed to keep its consistent good form and was on the edge of a European place until the final of that term, more than exceeding expectations and refuting the bad omens of the start of the season.
One of the most remembered moments for malaguismo was produced at La Rosaleda in the 14th League game against all-powerful rivals, Rijkaard’s Barça. It was a rainy afternoon at the Martiricos when Juande’s pupils unhinged a Barcelona that was left flapping around, when they were outdone by Salva’s effectiveness (3 goals) and supplemented with goals from Alonso and Canabal. It was an unforgettable 5-1 that perfectly illustrated the capabilities of head coach, Juande Ramos, who squeezed out the maximum performance from a team that completed a more than notable season in terms of numbers and games, finishing in 10th place.
Salva Ballesta, with 19 goals scored, was the top malaguista goal scorer in the league competition. The player from Zaragoza scored three more goals in the Cup for a total of 21 that season. Uruguayan Diego Alonso, with 6 goals was the second best goal scorer for Málaga in the League.