Sunday, May 28, 2017

Review of the season

Valencia’s 2016-17 season has to go down as one to forget, as it was a virtual re-run of the disastrous season before. The summer of 2016 was especially chaotic. First off, the selection of coach was a dubious one. Some of our fans are never long-term thinkers and had briefly wanted Ayestaran to stay, but that all changed when the team lost the last 3 games of 2015-16, giving him a poor W3-D1-L4 record. Mysteriously, despite this, the club confirmed him as the coach for 2016-17m even though many of us voiced our worry.

Having missed Europe altogether it was pretty obvious that major changes would be needed to the squad. Everyone accepted that Andre Gomes was a goner and it was just a question of who would join him at the exit. Feghouli left for free and the club had a blacklist which included Alves, Negredo, Abdennour, Enzo, Santos, Barragan and Piatti. Also, Parejo tried to force an exit to Sevilla, which the club vetoed.

The problem was, it didn’t seem that there was any plan B. The club just seemed to naively assume that clubs would come in and pay the money required and when that didn’t happen, the useless Garcia Pitarch flapped around like a headless chicken. The club was strongly linked with Raul Albiol, Amadou Diawara and Felip Kostic, none of whom arrived. Instead, the only summer acquisitions were Nani and Medran.

In the end, Negredo was loaned out, while Barragan and Piatti were given away cheaply. That didn’t solve the problems so talk turned to selling the club’s biggest stars, Mustafi and Alcacer. 3 months of the summer had passed with little resolved other than selling Gomes.

Such uncertainty was hardly good for the first game. It all began well, Mina netting early on against Las Palmas, but it was a false dawn for him and the club as we lost 2-4 at home. Mustafi and Alcacer both played and Ayestaran adamantly told reporters after the match that both were not for sale  as Lay Hoon had said so. Instead, they'd just played their last game and within a week both had been sold and Ayestaran and Lay Hoon had been fatally undermined by Lim’s behind the scenes deals.

The next game with Eibar and Betis followed patterns which would become all too familiar. At Eibar, we dominated but missed numerous chances and lost. With Betis we went 2 down fought back well to level then lost to a last minute goal. Immediately talk turned to relegation battles. It was easy to see why, the club had lost its best defender, midfielder and main 2 strikers in the summer and the replacements were a rag tag band of loans and free transfers. After another defeat, Ayestaran was sacked having taken a dismal 10 points in 12 games in charge. Supersub Voro stepped in and Valencia won a tense game against Alaves with a late penalty.

The club tried to hire Marcelino but La Liga ruled out it on a technicality. Would they have done the same with Madrid or Barca? I doubt it. After offering the job to Scolari and Van Gaal the club turned to Prandelli. It began well, with a win at Gijon, but quickly went downhill. That and 2 wins over Leganes in the cup would be his only successes. While he could talk the talk, he couldn’t walk the walk and his last league games saw 3 draws and 4 defeats. Prandelli went to Singapore to demand 4-5 new signings. He also launched a stinging attack on the players, with an infamous fuori tirade.


It’s unclear if he got the wrong idea from the Singapore or if Lim promised him these signings then backtracked (likely the latter) but he resigned at the end of 2016. Having alienated the players and produced poor results, it was for the best. But VCF were in dire straits, 17th and only out of the relegation zone on goal difference.

Voro took over again and was hit with a defence crisis, with injuries, suspensions and international games leaving us without our 4 defenders in the Copa. A makeshift defence of Suarez and B team player Javi Jimenez proved a disaster and we were out of the cup and morale sunk even lower after yet another last minute goal denied us the points at Osasuna. The next month and a half, however, saw an uptick which would drag us to safety. A few factors helped. The main credit has to go to Voro who showed that Valencia had the tool available to do what Prandelli couldn’t. Soler established himself as a first team regular. Zaza and Orellana were brought in, and, while the latter has been a let down, offered new options in attack. The team went on to record some impressive results, beating Bilbao and Espanyol, with the highs being the win at Villarreal and the win over Real Madrid.

Though the season has ended on a more upbeat note than the 2016 year did, massive improvement is still needed. The positive results have still been mixed with far too many lackluster performances. The 0-4 collapse at home to Eibar and limp performances against teams like Malaga and Atletico Madrid being the main lows. Despite that, the mood is a lot more optimistic than it was 12 months ago
You just have to compare the despairing comments which greeted the news that Ayestaran would be the manager with the optimism greeting Marcelino’s appointment. This is due in no small part to the new director, Alemany, who pushed for Marcelino over coaches with questionable records like Setien. Early signs are that the coming summer will be less disruptive and more organised. The club is close to fair play limits so there is less need to sell players. Cancelo and Enzo will likely be goners and I wouldn’t bet on Gaya being with us in the Autumn, but realistic replacements are already being lined up. Here’s being hopeful that we’ve finally turned a corner.

THE BAD

Concentration: the club conceded too many early or late goals.

Defence: continued to be awful, it wasn’t until late January that we kept a clean sheet!

Attack: not lethal enough and neither Rodrigo, Mina nor Munir took advantage of the chances to show what they could do.

Transfers: a mixed bag, with too many loanees failing to produce. Mustafi, Gomes and Alcacer weren’t adequately replaced, though Zaza may fill the role of the latter.

Managers: hiring inexperienced ones or ones that don’t speak Spanish doesn’t work.

Communication: telling supporters you will not sell players then doing so is poor form and will build mistrust.

Absence: Lim needs to come to Mestalla when the heat dies down

THE GOOD

Voro: deserves massive credit for steadying the ship

Lessons learnt: while Prandelli didn’t work out, his hiring and the attempts to sign Van Gaal and Scolari showed that, at last the club had woken up. The hiring of Marcelino is further confirmation.

The youth squad: the breakthrough of Soler and Lato and the fact that Valencia B are still in the fight for promotion is a clear sign that we have a steady pool of youth to draw on.

Transfers that did work: Montoya for free is exactly the type of acquisition we should be looking to make. While Zaza was not cheap, he at least displays the type of fight and effort that many other players could learn from.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 




 

 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Valencia 1-3 Villarreal / reserve news

Valencia's dismal season ended exactly as it began, with a home defeat by a 2-goal margin in a game that they probably should have got at least a draw from. It was almost as if the team was determined to showcase the worst aspects of their play this season: shocking and, at times, cowboy defending, cluelessness going forward, giving away possession too easily and a lack of imagination in the final third. For the umpteenth time this season, Valencia faced a team that weren't much better on the day but came away with nothing and while the team seems to have kicked its habit of conceding late goals, it just seems to have replaced that with conceding early ones.

With the reserves still battling for promotion, there wasn't even the opportunity to give any of them a game, so only 3 changes happened. Santos replaced the injured Garay, Soler came back in for Medran and Cancelo replaced Orellana, with the team aiming more for Marcelino's preferred 4-4-2, with Rodrigo taking a more central role.

Some people hadn't even taken their seats in a half-empty Mestalla when we fell behind to a clownish goal. Santos tried to pass it out of the danger area instead of hoofing it clear and Montoya inexplicably passed it right into the danger zone where Soldado slammed home. When you fall behind in such a fashion so early on, you will always struggle as you'll be chasing the game thereafter. Santos got booed for much of the half after that, which didn't help morale and the goal was probably even more Montoya's fault, but at least the latter has been one of our better players. Valencia did put in a good effort for the next 20 minutes or so after that with Parejo and Gaya forcing good saves from the keeper and the half ended with Valencia the better side, but a goal down.

Villarreal came out stronger in the second half and applied more pressure, but, against the run of play Valencia got the equaliser we deserved, Rodrigo making a good run and putting a dangerous cross for Nani to power in a header. It was shortlived. Though Zaza would miss a good chance, Valencia had been sitting back, it was unclear if this was a deliberate tactic or if they'd just run out of steam but Villarreal scored 4 minutes later and added a third near the end, when Valencia did look tired.

A year ago me (and Peter Lim) made our last visit to Mestalla for the last game of the season, losing 0-2 to Villarreal. A year on. it's like nothing has changed. The team finished 12th again, getting 2 more points than last time, winning 2 more games and scoring 10 more, but losing 2 more games and conceding 17 more. Sure, the results this year have been a bit better, but, by my tally, despite playing a game more versus R.Madrid, the team would be in 8th place based on 2017 results. That's not good enough. Some of these guys played their last game yesterday and their exit is for the best.

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On a more positive note, Valencia B won 3-2 yesterday away to Celta B in the promotion play-off quarter finals. The team fell behind but then went 3-1 up, before conceding a late penalty, but are still in pole position with the second leg coming on 27 May
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VALENCIA PLAYER RATINGS VS VILLARREAL

Jaume 4.5 - a disappointing game and could have done better for at least two of the goals
Montoya 3.5 - has been one of our best players this season, but this wasn't good, very shaky and terrible for the first goal
Santos 3 - no idea why he got the nod instead of Abdennour, but it didn't work. To his credit, had a good first half after the blunder, silencing the boo boys, but then undid it with mistakes in the second. Has to go.
Mangala 6.5 - very likely his last game and he'll be missed
Gaya 6 - turned in a good defensive performance, but was wasteful in possession
Soler 4.5 - mostly invisible game, is it just me or have his performances dropped off in the last month or so?
Parejo 5 - think we saw the best and worst sides yesterday. Some great passing but also gave away possession too much.
Nani 7 - had a really good game and was always an attacking threat
Rodrigo 6 - good performance overall
Cancelo 5.5 - acceptable performance up front, but less effective at the back
Zaza 4.5 - had an off day and missed a couple of chances

SUBS
Munir 4 - didn't do a lot after coming on, but does end the season as joint top scorer with Rodrigo
Mina 4 - limited after coming on. I'll say what I said about Alcacer 12 months ago, needs to step up to the plate next season or be sold.
Bakkali N/A - his usual, and totally pointless, 5-minute cameo. Should be loaned out or sold.














Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Marcelino's squad plans

Valencia CF coach Marcelino Garcia Toral has made his thoughts and wishes clear to the Valencia CF officials pertaining to the squad and transfers for the upcoming season.

First up he has himself identified Santos and Vezo as ones he doesn't count on and has suggested to the club to try and sell them off. The club has suggested the sales of Diego Alves, Alvaro Negredo and Joao Cancelo in order to reduce the wage bill and get some income to fund potential incoming transfers, but this has been rejected by Marcelino with the exception of Negredo, which he's made clear doesn't count on him if the club doesn't.

He has also asked if the club can keep Mangala who's been our best defender this season, but the official response is that a bigger sale needs to happen first in order to facilitate that, but that Mangala's salary itself is rather huge and even at a lower salary it would still be too high, so chances of Mangala staying are so far very slim.

One of the players who's stay he's requested is Daniel Parejo, he feels like Parejo is a crucial member to this team and doesn't see any better alternatives at a reasonable price. So the club is going to try and keep Daniel Parejo, though the player has wanted to leave for quite some time and everything is possible at this point.

Some of the 'key' players that he is 100% counting on are Montoya, Garay, Gaya, Lato, Parejo, Soler, Santi Mina, Nani, Rodrigo and Zaza.

The club will listen to offers for Joao Cancelo, Diego alves and Enzo Perez at this point, at least from the players who are with the team now, loanees are likely to all be sold/loaned out again. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Espanyol 0-1 Valencia / reserve team news

Valencia's last away game of a miserable season ended with a win, producing a double over Espanyol, who were probably the better side in the game.

Voro went for three changes. Medran replaced Enzo in the double pivot with Parejo. Rodrigo got his first start since early January, replacing Cancelo, while Orellana started in place of Soler. Jaume also continued in place of Alves, who was a slight injury doubt.

After a nervy opening 5 minutes, Valencia's best spell came between the 5th and 25th minutes. We were passing the ball well and using a high press against Espanyol which was working. However, in the final third it was a disappointment, with few chances falling our way and an overall lack of creativity. Things weren't helped by a bit of greediness on the part of Nani, who shot virtually every time he had the ball in the final third.

After that, Espanyol came back into the game, but luckily for us, they squandered several good chances. Gerard Moreno was put through but shot straight at Jaume, while Navarro had an almost free header, but put it just over. Our front three weren't doing that great in comparison, Zaza's best chance came at the start of the second half, but he blazed over.

With the clock ticking down and Espanyol looking by far the more likely to score, we nicked it in the 74th minute. Parejo put through a good ball for Gaya, who controlled and spun well to fire into the far corner for his first goal since December 2015. The game petered out after that, as it was a dead rubber for both sides.

Overall, not the greatest of games for us, we continued to look shaky in times at defence, especially from set pieces and were often poor and lacking connection in the final third. Hopefully, Marcelino can sort these issues.

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In other news, Valencia 'B' finished their season this evening with a 3-1 win over L'Hospitalet with goals from Jordi Sanchez, Eugeni Valderrama and Grego. This secures the team a place in the play-offs for Segunda division. The draw will take place tomorrow, with the first leg taking place this weekend. We will face either Celta 'B', Fuenlabrada or Villanovense in the first of three possible play-off ties.
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PLAYER RATINGS FOR VALENCIA FIRST TEAM
Jaume 8 - continues to prove himself a solid option and has staked a good claim for more games regardless of whether Alves stays or not
Montoya 7 - the silver lining in the ill-fated Alcacer deal was getting this guy, who's been turning in increasingly confident performances
Garay 5 - shaky at times at the back, not marking tightly enough and taken off at half time
Mangala 5 - has had some good games but this wasn't one of them and almost gifted them a goal
Gaya 7.5 - has shown good form this year and will hopefully remain at the club
Parejo 7 - had a decent game, helped us keep control of the midfield and was passing well
Medran 6.5 - did play it safe with his passes, but had an 83% success rate with them, good game on the whole
Nani 5 - has skill but is far too selfish and needs to pass more to teammates
Orellana 5 - made more of an effort this game, but was disappointing on the whole, all sources say we have a compulsory buy on him for 3m. If that's not the case, I'd pass on him.
Rodrigo 5.5 - he'd combined well with Zaza in the previous game and I was looking forward to this one, but it was a letdown. Pressured well, but didn't seem sure what to do when he had the ball.
Zaza 5 - ran a lot as usual, but was fairly anonymous this game

SUBS
Santos 5.5 - was an improvement on Garay, but this could well have been his last game for us
Soler 5.5 - improvement on Orellana, but has been a bit average of late
Munir N/A - probably the second of several games he'll be playing in the city of Barcelona this year

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Marcelino to become Valencia CF coach

Good news everyone, Marcelino Garcia Toral is to become Valencia CF coach. He was the first choice after the sacking of Pako Ayesteran, but due to weird LFP rules he couldn't become Valencia CF coach, so Valencia CF were forced to go with second option Cesare Prandeli which turned out to be a bad move overall.

Now the new leadership has choices Marcelino as the new coach who will begin his work in the summer, before the new season begins. Marcelino coached Villarreal previously and had great success with them, building a strong and cohesive unit with great team play.

He's also used to working with a "cheaper" squad if you will, so he is not going to demand some outrageous transfers and instead is going to look at improving the current squad, with obviously two or three reinforcements where he thinks are needed most!

Its up to Marcelino Garcia Toral to basically accept or reject the offer Valencia's sent him, and we are going to find out in less than 24 hours.

If he does accept the offer its going to be very good news for Valencia CF, we are getting one of the best available coaches out there, he knows Spanish which is always a big requirement for Spanish football, he knows the area, he knows the culture and he is an experienced coach who has dealt with pretty much everything.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Valencia 4-1 Osasuna match preview/report and news

Yesterday, it was confirmed that Voro will not continue as trainer next season, following the sporting director's conclave with Lim in Singapore. There had already been questions whether Voro wanted the role, as if it didn't work out, it would mean his exit from his beloved club. He's done a brilliant job stabilising the club and all VCF fans will be happy to hear he's continuing in some capacity with the club.

As for alternatives, Setien seems to have dropped out of the running. The backroom falling out at Las Palmas didn't help things, but the killer is Las Palmas' recent form, which has nosedived since it became clear he would not continue there. Since March, LP have taken only 4 points in 8 games, conceding 22 in that time and overall, their defence is the fourth worst in La Liga.

Marcelino seems to be the current favourite and the fact that he had agreed to take over post-Ayestaran is a bonus in that direction, but, as always, Valencia fans have to prepare for the worst. Berizzo of Celta is the other possibility and, with Celta's home defeat to Man United making it unlikely they'll play in Europe next season, he's become a realistic option as well.

Transfer rumours come and go and should largely be taken with a pinch of salt until we are closer to the post-season and until the new guy is confirmed. For what it's worth here is some of the news and rumours from the past week

*Munir will not continue at VCF. The 12m asking price is too much and Barca will not negotiate.
*Milan and Chelsea are interested in Garay.
*Parejo and Enzo will be sold.
*Gaya's release clause is currently 50m, but will reduce to 30m in June 2018 if the club don't increase his salary.
*Valencia will get 1m from the Andre Gomes transfer if Barca win La Liga.
*Valencia have asked about loan with option to buy deals on Vietto and Kranevitter.
*With relegation likely for Middlesbrough, Negredo will not continue there. He hasn't convinced the fans either. It's possible that he will continue in England, with West Brom expressing interest.

Valencia play Osasuna today in the first of two dead rubbers. Osasuna have been rubbish all season and have been in the bottom three since matchday three, though our game there ended in a frustrating 3-3 draw, with them nicking an injury time equaliser. Following a run of 4 games without a win, it's essential that Valencia achieve a convincing win today to lift morale. Osasuna like to play defensive (though it hasn't done them much good, shipping 84 goals in 35 games) and prefer 5-1-2-2 or 5-2-1-2. That means a lack of width that Valencia could exploit. Sergio Leon seems to be their main danger man, scoring 10 goals this season, a decent tally for such a weak team and Valencia are one of several clubs reported to be interested in him, as his release clause will drop from 12m to 2.5m following their relegation.

Valencia's 18-man squad is: Diego Alves, Jaume; Cancelo, Montoya, Santos, Garay, Mangala, Gayà; Enzo, Parejo, Medrán, Soler, Orellana; Nani, Munir, Rodrigo, Mina and Zaza.

Abdennour is injured and Bakkali, Siqueira and Mario Suárez have been excluded. Lato returns to Valencia 'B.' That isn't a demotion, but more a case of deploying him where he's more useful. Valencia 'B' are fighting for a place in the promotion play-offs for Segunda and Lato can make more of an impact there.

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As for the match itself, it was largely a walk in the park for Valencia and, for one of the rare occasions this season, the gap between them and a weaker team was clear. Leganes and Granada are probably the only other examples. Valencia won easily, scoring 4 goals for the first time since April 2016, though without either team breaking a sweat. The game had the atmosphere more of a friendly rather than a serious game and a lot of fans obviously voted with their feet and hit the beach instead. The attendance of 24,752 was the second lowest in the league this season.

Valencia had a chance in the early minutes with Enzo put through but unable to get a shot off. However, it was Osasuna who had the best of chances. Oriol headed just wide and Sergio Leon turned Garay well, but shot just over. Valencia took advantage. Gaya won a free kick on the edge of the area, Parejo hit it well, with the keeper just saving. From the resulting corner, the ball was knocked out, but Nani put the ball across and Garay was there to slide it in at the back post.

A few minutes later, Osasuna should have been level. Fausto only had to head it in, but hit it with his shoulder instead, injuring himself in the process, with Jaume producing a great save low down. Sergio Leon would have another chance, but shot at Jaume. Valencia for their part had plenty of possession but Nani kept shooting instead of passing.

Before half time, VCF got a second from Garay. A good forward pass to Leon was cut out to Montoya and his forward pass ended with Zaza, who took his time and passed to Garay, who slotted home well.

The second half continued in fairly languid fashion. Gaya hit the post, more by accident, when trying a cross. Osasuna had a couple of good chances too, and Oriol scuffed a shot at an open goal after Jaume had saved well from Leon. Valencia brought Rodrigo on and he made an immediate impact, Mangala and Nani combining to set him away on the left and his centre was turned in by Zaza. Rodrigo got on the scoresheet himself with his easiest goal this season, a cross deflected over the keeper for Rodrigo to tap in on the goal line.

Disappointingly, Osasuna got a consolation at the end, scoring in injury time just as in the first game after cutting inside and centering back. Jaume kicked the post in frustration, screaming "de puta madre!" as he was understandably annoyed at being denied the clean sheet he deserved by the defence switching off.

Overall, despite the scoreline, this wasn't our best performance of the season. The wins over Villarreal, R.Madrid or Celta would probably fit into that category. Some of our weaknesses were clearly in evidence. Shaky defending, especially from set pieces, lack of imagination in the final third and switching off late on in the game. Plenty for the new coach to sort.

On a final, positive note, Valencia 'B' secured their place in the play-offs for Segunda Division, with a draw at Lleida. They will now have three 2-legged ties if they want promotion.

PLAYER RATINGS
Jaume 7.5 - a good return and solid goalkeeping throughout. Proved once again he's a reliable replacement.
Gaya 7 - good game, was able to put in some decent crosses
Garay 6 - if I was grading him on attack, it would be 8.5, but he's a defender and for that it would be a 3.5 to 4. In the latter grounds he was very shaky, often losing his man and against a better team, we'd have conceded more.
Mangala 7.5 - did really well and often had to cover and cut out some dangerous balls when Garay went missing.
Montoya 7 - linked up really well with Cancelo. Has proved to be a great acquisition.
Enzo 6 - didn't notice him much, but we controlled the centre well
Parejo 6.5 - was passing well and almost scored. Will be missed by me when he goes.
Soler 6 - with Orellana's absence got a chance in his best position slightly behind the attack, but didn't make the most of it.
Nani 6 - put in some good contributions in attack, but was often far too greedy and needs to be less of a one-man band.
Zaza 6.5 - good goal and work rate as usual, even saw him coming back to help in defence. Now has 4 goals in 5 games. Hopefully this will continue into next season.
Cancelo 7 - was a real handful for their defence, another who will be missed if he goes

SUBS
Rodrigo 7 - good performance, with a goal and an assist
Medran N/A - didn't have much to do with the game already in the bag
Mina N/A - as above, didn't notice him much














Saturday, April 29, 2017

Real Madrid 2-1 Valencia

In some ways, it would have been good if this game had finished in the 80th minute. Sure, we'd have missed a Parejo special, but I'd have taken it just to avoid seeing a smug Real Madrid team celebrating a late winner.

Valencia went into this game missing the suspended Zaza and Cancelo and the injured Enzo, and I think this is one game in which those guys would have made a difference. We could have really done with the speed of Cancelo on the right and the physicality of Zaza and Enzo in each half, as at times Madrid had it a bit too easy in the middle. I've said it before: Valencia are too rigid and predictable in their tactics, always playing the same 4-2-3-1. In this game, I think it would have been best to crowd the midfield, drop Nani and Orellana to centre midfield on the wings with a forward two of Munir and Mina taking turns to drop back. Our tactics in games like this are too easily countered.

Overall, Valencia had a credible performance in the game itself, though with flaws which I'll come to. As usual, this raises the question of why they turn up against teams like this and then can't be bothered against the Malagas or Sociedads? In the first 15 minutes we played a good game. We could have been in front in the first minute when a ball over the top found Mina but Navas produced a good double save. For most of the first 20 minutes we were able to equal Madrid on their own turf. The biggest let down was in the final third, for the front four it just didn't happen. The final passes just went astray and when we did have good chances, such as a great one for Orellana in the 17th minute after a pass from Nani, we fluffed our chances.

Gradually, Madrid took control of the game, especially in the midfield. This was down to tactics more than personnel, as Parejo and Soler had a good game on the whole, but were too cut off from the front four and left exposed as a result. Ronaldo put Madrid ahead in the 27th minute and it was disappointing, almost a carbon copy of their goal in Mestalla in early February: a cross whipped in and Penaldo outjumps Garay to head home. The half ended with Madrid edging it, but VCF still in it. We'd created chances, but hadn't been able to make the break, while Madrid had similarly struggled to break us down.

This pattern continued for most of the second half until broken in the 56th minute. Yet again, Valencia had another soft penalty awarded against them. Parejo had put his hands on Modric, who made a meal of it. Probably two out of three referees would have waved play on, but we always seem to foul of such marginal calls. For the third time, Alves saved a Ronaldo penalty.

The stalemate continued after that. Madrid hit the post, and Valencia's final ball proved poor and we were taking too long passing the ball around in the final third instead of putting the crosses in, losing possession as a result.

Valencia then managed to level in the 82nd minute in probably the only way they were ever going to score: from a set piece. A "Parejazo" - one of the man's great free kicks -beat Navas in the top corner. That seemed to wake Madrid who pushed forward and 4 minutes later some disappointing defending, after the defence had been good the whole game, let Madrid steal it.

A credible performance on the whole, though with questionable tactics and poor attack. However, this is the first time Valencia have lost three in a row since Ayestaran. It would be good to see the team make the same effort against already relegated Osasuna next week. Also, I think we should use these last games to blood the youngsters, though with Valencia B fighting for promotion to segunda, maybe they are better used there.

PLAYER RATINGS

Alves 6.5 - good performance and he's become CR7's nemesis
Lato 6.5 - had really taken his chance in the first team and can now really challenge Gaya for the left back spot
Mangala 7 - very solid game, made numerous good interceptions, big shame he's off soon
Garay 6 - good game except for the goal
Montoya 6 - controlled the right and held off the attacks, though at fault for the winning goal
Soler 6.5 - mostly a good game from the youngster, but has to improve passing and decision making
Parejo 7 - I will miss this guy if he goes, when he does play well, it lifts the team
Orellana 3.5 - continues to be a disappointment
Nani 4.5 - probably the best of the attack, but what's the deal with him strolling off when we're losing?
Mina 3.5 - needs to take his chances and improve his finishing
Munir 4 - fairly anonymous game and should have tracked back for the last goal

SUBS
Rodrigo 4 - good to see him back, but not fully fit and wasted a good chance, heading over
Gaya N/A - has a fight on his hands now with Lato for left back
Bakkali N/A - time to give this guy a proper game or loan him out. Pointless bringing him on in the 88th minute.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Valencia 2-3 Sociedad

This game was Valencia's season in miniature. Awful start, terrible first half, shaky at the start of the second part and then a decent reaction, but one which is too little too late and which doesn't take away the bad taste and the feeling that this team should be doing much better than this.

Earlier in the week there had been worries, especially about the defence, with Mangala suspended and Abdennour still injured and questions about whether Garay would recover from his concussion. In the end he did, to partner Santos, but it still didn't prevent VCF leaking 3 goals, most of them stupid ones which never should have happened.

We were on the backfoot from the very beginning. Santos got caught too far forward, but still, the long ball over looked like it wasn't achieving anything, however Juanmi cut it back hopefully and the ball bounced off Alves' legs into the net. There were 33 seconds gone and already we were behind. It was hardly good for morale in a mostly empty Mestalla: the official attendance was 26,101, which I think is the second lowest this season for a home game.

Thereafter, despite roughly equal possession and Sociedad not playing that great, Valencia struggled to create chances. Worse, the team didn't seem that bothered and were hardly exerting themselves looking for an equaliser. When we did get some half chances the decision making was poor. Enzo dispossessed well but blazed over in the 19th minute. Nani did exactly the same a few minutes later. The team was then punished for its lethargy. Siquiera had already dawdled too long on the ball earlier and did it for a second time with dire consequences. His trailing arm hit a Sociedad player and yet again, Valencia had a harsh penalty against them and were 2-0 down.

The entrance of Lato for Siquiera at half time at least improved things at left back for a while, though, with VCF still not busting a gut, it was Lato who got turned and lost his man for the third and the defence and Alves should all have done better for that. Game over it seemed, but strangely, after padding around aimlessly for over an hour, Valencia came to life. Santos' header won a penalty and Nani slotted it home well. Another sub then made a difference. Cancelo, playing in his better position as a right winger, was giving the Sociedad defence a headache and put in a great cross which Zaza turned in at the back post. Could Valencia do it? The team tried a few attacks, but then ran out of steam around the 80th minute with the game petering out to a disappointing defeat after that.

While it was nice to see the rally between the 60th and 80th minutes, it was much too late to rescue Valencia from the predicament that they'd dug themselves into and shouldn't have been in. If Valencia were a boxer, they'd be better off throwing in the towel now to save themselves any further embarrassment. We still have 4 games left including probable losses (if the team continues to play like this) at R.Madrid and Espanyol and a tough home game with Europe-chasing Villarreal. Sadly, after a decent run that took the team to safety, the team seems to have relapsed into old ways to such a degree that I'm not even sure that it's worthwhile even watching the remaining games. If I were Voro, I'd give some of the youth players, including Bakkali a chance, they can hardly be less up for it than the overpaid sloths in the first team.

PLAYER RATINGS
Alves 2 - two mistakes in three games have gifted other teams goals, also had a few shaky moments taking too long to clear the ball
Siquiera 1 - just awful and since he's leaving in the summer anyway, should be relegated to occasional cover for Lato or Gaya.
Santos 4 - not a bad game to be fair, but not a great one either and the team missed Mangala. Another player who should move on in Summer.
Garay 4.5 - has improved this year but was a bit off the boil tonight
Montoya 4 - not his best night and was out of place for the first goal
Enzo 4 - did fight in the end but passing and decision making often a let down
Soler 4.5 - clearly still a work in progress and often goes for a dribble when he should be passing
Orellana 5 - had a better game than usual and offered an attacking threat but lacked link up and understanding with teammates
Zaza 5.5 - same as ever, working hard and got a good goal but spoilt things somewhat with a bit of a stupid retaliation to earn a silly booking which rules him out of the Real game
Nani 4.5 - still not sure he's 100% fit, got in good positions but can be a bit too greedy
Munir 3.5 - helped out in defence but did little in attack

SUBS
Lato 5 - big improvement on Siquiera after coming on, should be second choice after Gaya
Cancelo 6 - good game, but sadly the damage was done when he came on
Mina 3.5 - bit like the team itself, blows hot and cold. Great on his day but in games like this ineffective.