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Betis boss plays blame game

Pepe Mel on the defensive after Sevilla rips Betis apart in derby

Pepe Mel cuts an exasperated figure during Betis' derby defeat
Pepe Mel cuts an exasperated figure during Betis' derby defeatCRISTINA QUICLER (AFP)

In times when media management is at the forefront of the mind of virtually any public figure, it has become common to hear soccer coaches trot out the line "I take sole responsibility for this defeat" after the players have made a complete pig's ear of things. This apparently noble statement is often undermined, however, when a bruised team boss unwittingly reveals a burning sense of self-pity by muttering the following observation before the press pack: "It is the coach who loses and the players who win."

After Sunday night's 5-1 mauling at the hands of Sevilla in the Andalusian capital's derby match, Betis coach Pepe Mel started on message — "I am responsible for this defeat" — before devising a new formula for compartmentalizing blame ahead of a week in which one side of Seville will mercilessly mock the green-and-white half of a bitter rivalry. "Out here it's me who is to blame, and what I have to say to the players will be done in private." They did not do good.

In the first minute a tame clearance by Betis goalkeeper Adrián gifted José Antonio Reyes a goal on his return to the Sevilla teamsheet after one of the fickle forward's periods in the doldrums. By half time, two headers by the towering center half Federico Fazio and another opportunistic strike by Reyes had rendered the derby a done deal. Mel had time to prepare his lines.

Sevilla's next Liga opponent, Atlético Madrid, was far less convincing in its 0-1 victory at Granada earlier in the evening, but Arda Turan's goal was enough to keep the colchoneros in second, three points behind Barcelona.

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