Juande Ramos' brief stay at Málaga gave way to the sixth malaguista Project in First Division and the fourth with Serafín Roldán as the Club’s man in charge that backed a solid trainer like Gregorio Manzano from Jaen. There were no major changes made to the squad from the previous year, although top goal scorer Salva, who was on loan returned to his club, was replaced at the last minute with South Americans Amoroso and Wanchope.
Málaga started the new season reasonably well including offering some spectacular results like the unforgettable game at La Rosaleda against Numancia (4-1). But eight defeats in nine games – between game 10 and 18, with a special mention of the disgraceful ‘white hanky’ episode at La Rosaleda against Real Sociedad (1-5), ended the fans patience and that of the board, leading to the dismissal of Manzano following the defeat at the hands of Racing in the 18th league game at Santander.
The morale and physical state of the team had dropped and, after many years, the bench was relieved mid season. The aim was to look for a reversal for a team in a relegation place that smelled of Second Division. They did not have to look far, as right on the doorstep was the modest figure of Fuengirola coach Antonio Tapia. Málaga B’s trainer was promoted to the first team after a brilliant season with the malaguista youth team; he instilled in Málaga the capacity for hard work, strength and a sense of real teamwork that was exceptional. From looking at a team in its death throes and relegation it changed to a team with ‘Champions’ numbers, which broke other statistical records.
Tapia made his debut with two 1-0 triumphs at La Rosaleda both against powerhouses like Sevilla and Atlético, which gave confidence to a team that had a luxury reinforcement in the December market: Brazilian forward Fernando Baiano. It was an unforgettable Málaga team that played in that second leg of the league, comprising Arnau; Gerardo, Fernando Sanz, César Navas, Valcarce; Romero and Juanito; Juan Rodriguez, Miguel Angel, Duda; Baiano.
The high point of that team came with the Club’s historic away win, 1-6 in Pamplona against Osasuna, in the 25th game of the season. Unbelievable; 33 points in the second leg, another record, ending with a victory (0-2) over Sevilla in the last game earning a more than deserved 10th place; a repeat of the position realized in the previous campaign.
Brazilian forward Fernando Baiano, who came as reinforcement in the winter market, ended up as malaguista ‘pichichi’ top goal scorer, with 9 goals. Wanchope was second with 6 goals, while Amoroso and Juan Rodriguez scored 5, although the malagueño midfielder added two more in the King’s Cup.