The return to the silver division was presumed difficult, due to the complexity and little time to form a competitive squad, coupled with the financial restrictions associated with relegation. As such, the Club’s new sports director, José Luis Pérez Caminero brought back an old acquaintance to head up the team: Juan Ramón López Muñiz.
The coach from Asturias, who knows the Second Division well, quickly moulded the team to the new reality under his classic precepts. That is, a strong, family group in the dressing room, and on the pitch, a tough team in defence that will make the most of their attacking options to win matches with a great collective effort.
Muñiz’s Málaga got off to a great start in LaLiga 1|2|3, accumulating five wins out of five games. La Rosaleda was an impenetrable fortress, achieving an impeccable seven out of seven victories, 21 points out of a possible 21 in the first seven games at Martiricos. Even the swift elimination from the Cup competition against UD Almería didn’t hamper the morale of a team that enjoyed regular wins, despite being narrow victories involving a great deal of suffering.
The league competition advanced with MCF always remaining in direct promotion positions with a good cushion of points over their opponents. However, almost midway through the season, the defeat by the subsequently disqualified Reus (0-3, matchday 20) kicked off a run of irregular results, particularly at home. Although, that said, away from home the team accumulated four months without a loss between December and April. In this fourth month of the year, following a 1-2 against Extremadura UD (matchday 34) Muñiz was dismissed from his position leaving the team in sixth place.
The revulsive effect of his replacement, Víctor Sánchez del Amo was immediate. The debut of the Madrid-born coach in Alcorcón resulted in a 1-4 win for the team, with a stellar performance from Javi Ontiveros, and exemplified the importance of changing the players’ mentality at a key moment. The dynamic and gameplay altered, with an attractive football that engaged the Malaguista fans, who were more enthusiastic than ever about returning to the First Division. Víctor’s Málaga, coincidentally, traced the start of the league competition, winning the last five matches of the regular league consecutively.
Málaga CF ended the season in 3rd place (74 points) in LaLiga 1|2|3, behind promoted CA Osasuna and Granada CF. In the first round of the LaLiga promotion play-offs, the boys were up against RC Deportivo. In the first leg, held at Riazor, the unfavourable 4-2 result didn’t discourage the team and fans as they went in search of the comeback. “Vamos a volver” (“We will return”) became the slogan of Malaguismo, with fans packing out La Rosaleda for the return leg. However, the 0-1 in favour of the Galician outfit made it impossible to reach the end of the road with the objective achieved. The unity in the stadium between the players and fans was both emotional and historic in the epilogue of a highly intense year.
Adrián González (10 goals) and Blanco Leschuk (9 goals) made up the attacking duo throughout the season and were Málaga CF’s highest scorers in 2018/19.