Another example of a British opinion would be:
Gareth Glover, Forgotten War Against Napoleon: Conflict in the Mediterranean 1793-1815 Page 153.
This seemingly confirms the notion that the main Spanish army was of poor quality and that the Division of the North was elite. However in the following pages covering the war in the east coast of Spain in 1808-1809 Glover writes of courage and determination of the Spanish armies in their resistance to the French and while not outright praising the battles and sieges as some military brilliance he describes some pretty good performance by the Spanish, for an example:
pages 167 and 168.
This sounds like pretty good performance to me, especially since many of the Spanish defenders in Valencia were civilians or irregulars. The part where the campaign starts going downhill for the Spanish is when Napoleon sends reinforcements, and even then there is no strong criticism or descriptions of a lack of courage or determination. It seems to me that the Spanish army was indeed of good quality in 1808-early 1809 and the descriptions of actions seem to confirm this. I think that the notion that the army was undisciplined or behind in 1808, which I think there is some truth to when compared to the army in 1793, comes from the notion that the armies of 1808 and let's say 1810 were the same, this evidently isn't true. The claims say that the Spanish army was poor in 1808, however the descriptions of battles and campaigns describe an army that was determined to resist and fought bravely. It seems to me that the armies of 1808 and post-mid 1809 are either mixed up or there is contradiction on accident.
I agree wit you British sources portraited the 1809 Army.. not the 1808 Army...The prussian officer Berthold von Schepeler wrote an anecdote during the Talavera campaing in 1809. A group of British officers commented on the poor quality of the Spanish troops with which they had started the march to Madrid. Von Schepeler immortalized in writing the proud response given by General Don Pascual de Zayas, commander of the Vanguard Division of the Army of Extremadura:
Gentlemen, these same soldiers, without shoes, without jackets, were the defenders of El Ferrol, of Tenerife, of Buenos Aires.
And General Wellesley said to the Britiish officers: Gentlemen, you have deserved this reply.
Source: Schepeler, Berthold A. von, Histoire de la Révolution d´Espagne et de Portugal. 1829-1831. Volumen I. Page 111.
(In french, in original text: Un jour, à la table de lord Wellington, les Anglais critiquaient la mauvaise tenue des soldats espagnols; le général Zayas, qui était présent, répondit : « Messieurs, ces mêmes soldats, sans souliers, sans » cravattes, furent les défenseurs du Ferrol , de Ténériffe et de » Buénos-Ayres (2). » Wellington, trop grand pour ne pas faire servir une réponse si à propos à réprimer la fierté anglaise, ajouta : « Messieurs, vous avez mérité cette leçon."
As von Schepeler added Ferrol, Tenerife and Buenos Aires were Spanish victories in which Spaniards foughty numerically surpassed by the enemy ...and that battles were not centuries ago.. but only few months from Talavera as Buenos Aires or 12 years sooner in Tenerife...
The Sp Army in 1808 had weaknesses and defects like the rest of the European armies (save Grande Armée) , but it was good ... in some points, excellent ... in 1809 .. it was an improvised army and even so, the Spanish infantry managed to defeat the imperial one in many battles that became defeat because of the cavalry