Sunday, May 28, 2023

The final day permutations, almost safe, but...!

 Valencia nearly screwed it up against Espanyol. Despite dominating the first half hour, Valencia as usual were unable to put away good chances and the game went like so many others this season. Eventually, the other team got some half chances and scored.

The English commentator reckoned we were safe. By my calculation we're not. We survive next week in any of the following situations:

1 we get a point
2 Cadiz don't LOSE (away to Elche, there's a very unlikely scenario where Cadiz could still relegate)
3 Valladolid don't win (they are at home to Getafe, who are not safe)
4 Almeria lose (they are away to already relegated Espanyol)
5 Celta don't win (they're at home to Barcelona.)

If we lose and Valladolid win, then there's the possibility of a messy tie on 41 points, which is broken by head-to-head points, then head-to-head goal difference between *ALL* the teams in question. The all is important since, although we win a head-to-head against Getafe, the inclusion of other teams could screw us up.

Here are all the possible head-to-heads involving us and Getafe:

Almeria 16, Cadiz 13, Valencia 10, Getafe 9, Celta 5

Cadiz 11, Valencia 9, Getafe 9, Celta 4
Almeria 14, Valencia 10, Getafe 7, Celta 2
Almeria 12, Cadiz 10, Getafe 5, Valencia 4***

Almeria 10, Valencia 4, Getafe 3
Valencia 9, Getafe 7, Celta 1
Cadiz 8, Getafe 5, Valencia 3***

Valencia 3-3 Getafe (Valencia wins 5-2 on head-to-head goals scored.)

Only the ones with the asterixes relegate us. Oddly, since both of them involve Cadiz, that means we need Cadiz to get a draw or win at Elche. If Cadiz get at least a point, we're guaranteed safety.

It's really frustrating that we have spent so many months surviving not through our own efforts, but more hoping that other teams will be worse than us and throwing away points in crunch games against virtually every relegation rival. (Celta the only exception since the world cup!) 

So while it's 99% sure we'll survive this season, the prospects for next do not look so good. Mamardashvili has saved us on a number of occasions this season, the mistake tonight aside. With our own attacking players so often toothless, we've relied on the goals of Lino and Kluivert to dig us out of trouble. The continuity of all those 3 at Mestalla is in serious doubt. Losing Guedes and Soler last summer removed our 2 biggest threats and although Almeida looks a solid prospect, he's a season away from fully filling Soler's boots. Apart from him, Gaya, Mamardashvili, Kluivert, Lino and some of the promising canteranos, there are very few guys in this squad I'd shed tears over if they left.

Sadly, I expect another relegation struggle next season even if we do survive on the last day.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Valencia are safe, but have a bigger problem to fix

I decided to wait a few days before writing this blogpost until the situation settled a little bit. Firstly, let’s deal with the elephant in the room. This week should have been a joyous one for Valencia. A first win over Real Madrid in front of our own fans since 2019 (we, of course, beat them due to the Soler penalty hat-trick during Covid.) But not only that: a win which effectively guarantees Valencia’s place in the top flight, which looked seriously under threat.

Of course, what should have been a great week is now one of the worst for our club and the city in ages. The racist idiocy of a few fools has dragged the name of the club and city and fanbase through the mud and tarnished the result. I’ve seen quite a few of our fans giving the other side of the coin: certain players aren’t punished for provocation due to the club they play for, Valencia are being treated harshly compared to other clubs etc etc. Those views have merit but there is a time and place for such discussions and NOW IS NOT THE TIME. Our focus should be on one thing and one thing only: any racist in our fanbase, in our stadium or near our stadium is one racist too many. It doesn’t matter what provocations, true or not, happen. Abusing any player on the grounds of race, nationality, religion, sexuality etc is 100% unacceptable. It is wrong. Full stop.

Now, as far as what’s been done, that only goes part of the way. There should a zero tolerance policy to it. It shouldn’t have to get to the point where protocols are enacted and games paused. Ground security should immediately eject any offenders and they should be banned. A tough example would cut this out.

“But it was only a handful of people in the stadium! Our fans are no worse than others” I’ve been in Mestalla enough times to know this is true, but there were a group outside the stadium chanting racist slogans. Those people are banned, rightly from the stadium, but they’re still allowed to crawl around outside, engaging in abuse which sometimes veers into bigotry and damaging our reputation. It’s on the police to deal with them, so Valencia need to liaise with local authorities and tell them in no uncertain terms that their payment for policing also includes keeping these fools from gathering and arresting them if they do gather and break into racist chants. Do these clowns not see that we have Diakhaby, that we have Musah, that we have Thierry, that we have Kluivert and Moriba etc?

Finally, our fans in and around the stadium need to make it clear through banners and counter protests, that these Yomus groups are not welcome. We can easily criticise wider authorities for not doing enough to deal with the problem but we should set a proactive example.

Let’s move on to the positive that we would have been talking about if all that hadn’t happened. Valencia are now effectively safe. I’ve been looking at the table and the remaining games and I believe that even if we lost the 3 remaining games we’d still stay up as it would take a very unlikely combination of results to relegate us.

As things stand, we are ahead of Celta, Cadiz, Almeria, Valladolid, Getafe and Espanyol and 2 of those 7, including us, could go down.

If level on points, we have the better head-to-head against Celta and Getafe and effectively Valladolid due to goal difference. We drew with Espanyol earlier in the season so the head-to-head depends on that. Cadiz and Almeria will finish above us if we’re level on points.

Let’s take the worst case scenario. We lose all 3 remaining games. The other teams then get perfect results, all winning, against teams not in the relegation fight. So the teams in capital letters win

Villarreal – CADIZ
Elche – CADIZ
Betis – GETAFE
CELTA – Barcelona
ESPANYOL – Atletico Madrid

Just to start with, I think all those results happening are very, very unlikely, but if anyone disagrees, I’m sure there’s a bookmaker who’ll happily give you good odds. (You’ll lose your money.)

However, that situation would leave La Liga as:

Cadiz 44
Celta 43
Getafe 41
Espanyol 40
Valencia 40
Almeria 39
Valladolid 38
(bottom two go down)

So that’s the situation if we lose and all other teams get perfect results. We’d still not be in a relegation position. There would be remaining games not included above:

Cadiz vs Celta,
Almeria vs Valladolid,
Espanyol vs Almeria,
Valladolid vs Getafe

Almeria-Valladolid would be key.
If there was a draw or Almeria won Valladolid would need to beat Getafe on the last day.
If Valladolid won, Almeria would need to win away at Espanyol on the last day.
In both those cases, Getafe and Espanyol would also be fighting for survival, so wouldn’t lose easily.

So I think even on 40 points and no more wins, we’re safe.

Staying up when confirmed leads us into the familiar discussions of the manager and transfer window, usually disappointing though they are. Baraja has stepped up to the plate and delivered the safety he was hired for. Should he stay on? I’m on the fence. I certainly think we can do better but there’s the problem of who would come to Valencia now with all the instability (and this week’s controversy doesn’t help either.) On the other hand, he’s shaken things up, given the academy players a chance and they’ve delivered. It would also look bad to reward him for saving us by firing him.

Let’s hope for a win at Mallorca to end this nasty week on a more positive note.

Monday, April 17, 2023

Valencia CF is headed towards relegation

Valencia's last win came on March 11th and it was only enough to push us 1 point over the relegation zone, since then Valencia CF has lost 3 matches and drawn one. In the past the team has been able to muster up enough determination to stick it to our direct rivals in the past like Sevilla, Atletico Madrid, Bilbao, etc.... but this season we've not seen any of that, and how could we? Our current Valencia CF consists of loanees who are going to be out of the club next season and don't care what happens to this club at all or are players who are here for the first year, many have options to just jump ship if it goes overboard, so why should they care?

I've been saying this for years now, probably good 5-6 years that all of our "rebuilding" has been detrimental to our club. Each year Valencia CF is rebuilding, and all that means is we sell our top players and bring in 4-5 cheap replacements, which we don't even give a chance anyways and then sell those replacements next year for even worse ones and lose money in the process. 

Which player in our squad has been with the team for more than 3 years? Jaume has been here for a longer period, and he is our youth product, but he's never been a key player, he's always been a reserve, but okay its still important to have veterans at the club, even if they are second or third fiddle. Diakhaby, Paulista, Gaya, Correia and Lato are more than 3 years with the club, then in terms of midfielders none have been with the team for 3 or more years! Well only Hugo technically, but he was first in the B team and only joined the first team in 2020. 

None of our attackers have been with the team for 3 years, so out of about 26 or 27 players we only have 7 players who've been at the club for 3 or more years who would give a damn slightly about the club. The rest of the players are all new players who've been the at the club for barely a year or two or loan players who will leave us the next season anyways! 

Our team doesn't have a CORE of players to build around, we've been selling all of our top players year after year, bringing in weaker and cheaper alternatives and we're at the point where we can't even bring cheap alternatives, we are bringing loan players who literally don't care about the club. Why would they? 

Its hard for me a fan of over 20 years to care these days, how would a loan player who's been at Valencia for barely 6-7 months care about the future of the club? Why would he give his utter maximum on the pitch, why would he risk injury? 

And those who do give everything I'm afraid are not good enough! This is why we are in a relegation battle with a real possibility of dropping to the B division! At this point even if Lim is to magically disappear from the club and the best and brightest people take it over to lead it, it still won't change anything, at least not in the short term. The damage has already been done to the club, we don't have a playing core at Valencia CF, we don't have a Valencian technical team, we don't have people who love and care about the club anymore! They've all left or been let go and we have a bunch of mercenaries running and working for the club. 

Unfortunately, we seem to truly be headed towards relegation and I'm not seeing anything that is going to reassure me we are not headed towards relegation! Valencia's one of the oldest and most prestigious clubs in Spain, has been for a century and all it took was a lunatic owner to bring it on its knees in only a decade! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Getafe CF 1-0 Valencia CF Match Report

New coach same old Valencia, same old issues, same old results! This time it was Baraja's turn to try out his luck, after Gattuso's luck ran out and Voro's magic didn't manifest. Peter Lim chose to act quickly and change Voro with a club legend, hoping to appease the fans and try and lift morale in the dressing room. 

The thing is NO ONE believe in this "project"! No one believes in Peter Lim, no one wants Meriton, in fact most fans at this point hate, absolutely hate Peter Lim and all of his cronies! 

I had no expectations from this match, and I had no delusions that we can get a decent result considering we've slandered much better opportunities for victories. At this point I don't even care about the matches and results; I just want Peter Lim gone at all costs! He needs to go, everyone needs to stop buying tickets, whether its seasonal or individual, everyone needs to stop buying Valencia CF merchandise, and everyone needs to pressure the Valencian government to start a financial investigation into Meriton! They are in breach of contract, they have not yet finished the new stadium, they have not acted on their responsibilities and no matter how much the club sells and reduces its expenditures there never seems to be enough cash in the club's bank accounts! 

The match itself was pretty much a repeat of the last 5 matches, the team plays decent football, nothing special, but certainly not relegation level if you look at it objectively, but there is no consistency, there is no confidence with the ball, there is way too much individual errors, etc....

At this point I think Ruben Baraja needs to figure out a super defensive team that sits back, soaks attacks and tries to get results from drawing. We need about 11 points to theoretically avoid relegation and there is still plenty of games to go, but we need to start gaining points immediately! We have 16 more matches till the end of the season, if we are able to get 11 points from 16 games out of a potential of 48 points, we should theoretically be safe from relegation! 

Lim and his cronies didn't bring any reinforcements in the winter transfer window even though Gattuso was demanding it and even though there was obviously a need for it! There were several good options to get on loan deals, so it wouldn't have cost the club a penny, but they couldn't manage even that! 

We seriously lack a winger, we seriously lack a central defender, and we even lack a defensive midfielder! Hugo Guilamon has been terrible since the start of the second half of the season, a big change from the first half when he was relatively good. I don't know what happened to him, but it's not good. 

Illaix Moriba is not really the defensive type, I don't even know what type he is, seems like the busy type, running channels and stuff, but we actually need a defensive minded one, a midfield destroyer the likes of Albelda, Fuego, Topal, etc...

What do guys you see that needs to be changed in order to improve our results? What can Ruben Baraja do to turn things around? 

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Getafe CF vs Valencia CF Match Preview

How bad has Lim ownership and "leadership" turned out? Valencia CF went from being a top 4 club, mostly regular in the champions league, one of the most respected and recognizable clubs in the world, to a minnow fighting to avoid relegation. Even hardcore 20+ years supporters are tuning out and uninterested in the clubs matches! They are right as fans of Real Madrid or Barcelona or Manchester United or any big club start protesting over their clubs not winning few games in a row, let alone seeing their club fall down so far and fight for relegation!

The only way out of this is for fans, supporters, club admirers, former players and staff to organize and chip in the most money we can and have the city government fine Meriton tens and tens of millions of euros until they are forced to sell the club! Meriton has defrauded the city of Valencia by not finishing the stadium and they are liable for damages. I would also inspect the club's finances and if there are irregularities go after Meriton on that as well. Make it financially impossible to continue to own the club and force Lim to sell. 

I can see former players like Silva, Villa, Marchena, Aimar, Canizares, Albelda, Mata, Ayala, etc... all chipping in, to buyout the club, and we would need them in order to get enough money to purchase the club! Small investors who chip in with $50 or $100 are great, especially if there are tons of us, but we need bigger investors, we need big money, we need people to come in with 100k, 500k, 1 million, etc...

Valencia CF appointed Ruben Baraja as head coach for 6 months, as John wrote in the article it's a way to appease the fans temporarily, but it's not going to work! There is literally nothing Lim can do to change fans opinions of him, heck if Valencia CF magically won the league, it still won't change fans opinions of Lim and Meriton and they would be demanding Lim to leave. The relationship has been irreparably broken and there is no way back! 

Even if Baraja is somehow able to turn this ship around and steer Valencia CF past relegation it won't matter, no one can be satisfied with their team barely avoiding relegation! 

Lim needs to retire, to go off into the sunset and hire real football professionals to run the club, he shouldn't be making ANY decision about the club, no one should be calling him, no one should be seeing him, he should be no one to the club, with professionals running the club and not caring about Lim. That is the only way forward, that is the only way the club can start moving in the right direction again! 

The match against Getafe CF doesn't even matter, not if the team's goal is to avoid relegation, which it's kind of is at this time. Basically, Valencia CF need to acquire about 13 points till the rest of the season to theoretically avoid relegation, I think that is the safe limit historically, so individual games don't matter, though it would be nice to see Valencia CF win for once and break the terrible string of defeats! 

Last time I checked and reported on Valencia's finances I believe the club was supposed to have only been 150 million in dept, Lim and Meriton were bragging that they've been paying off huge chunks of the debt and financially the club was making small profits, or at least not losing money to require new loans! So last time I checked we were 150 million euros in the debt to various banks, I'm not sure where some of our readers are coming up with numbers of 400+ million in debt. Again, it was about 3.5-4 years ago when I reported few times on this and back then almost 4 years ago, I believe the debt was reduced to around 150 million or 175 million, somewhere around those numbers. 

I know the club has been loaning money from Meriton, but didn't the sale of several of our players cover that? I believe the club owed Peter Lim around 70 million euros, which I think the club paid off through the sales of several players! 

This is also another big red flag, why is Lim "borrowing" Valencia CF money and why is the club paying it off with interest? He owns the club, why is he squeezing money out of it? I don't see any other private club owners screwing their own clubs! I don't see the Sheiks "borrowing" money to their clubs, in fact they've done all of the possible loopholes and tricks in order to invest money into their clubs, I remember Man City got an injection of 400 million euros with the club selling the stadium name and image right to its owner for 10 years, which he owns anyways, it was a trick to inject money into the club without getting afoul of fair play! 

Its only Valencia's owner that is borrowing money to his own club with interest on it! What a joke the dude is! He should be investigated for financial malversations, money laundering, fraud, etc... Force him out, threaten him with jail time, etc...

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Valencia appoint Rubén Baraja

Valencia have announced that Rubén Baraja has taken over as manager. He has a contract until  the end of the season, with no option to extend, even if he does well. Yet again, we've had 3 people in charge in a month and he's the 10th permanent manager, not counting Voro, in 9 and a half years of Meriton mismanagement.

Not for the first time, Meriton seem to be making it up as they go along. The idea was that Voro would take over till the end of the season. However, he failed to produce a spark in results and so the panic button was pressed once more.

Unlike some of the obscure choices foisted on us from Singapore, Baraja, of course, needs no introduction. His status as a club legend as a player is assured. He was the top scorer, albeit with a mere 7 goals, when we won the league in 2002. The problem comes when you look at his managerial career. Underwhelming is not the word. Poor is.

He's failed to last even a year in his 5 permanent jobs. In two of them, he lasted just 3 months. Is he the man to bring about a reversal in fortunes? It's hard to have confidence he will. Overall, as well, the experiment of having club legends manage us has usually gone badly rather than well this century. Only Quique Sanchez Flores had any reasonable level of results. Pellegrino and Dukic failed. The spell of Pizzi (hardly a club legend anyway) is probably better remembered by fans than it was. He did get us to a European semi-final, but league results were poor. 

Where Baraja may help is in motivating a mentally fragile squad as someone who has "walked the walk" at Mestalla. He also has credit in the bank with fans, meaning he'll be given more time. Indeed, some would say his appointment is a cynical effort by Meriton to quieten fans. Really at this point, even if Lim appointed Guardiola and signed Haaland and Mbappe, the relationship with fans is irreparably damaged. 

Sad to say, my hopes are low and my confidence is shattered. The Almeria game was the last one I watched and I'm sorry to admit that I haven't regretted skipping the games, for the sake of my nerves. Even if Baraja somehow manages to save this season, we're looking at a placing of 15th or below. The rot and the decline is clear and we all know why. In the very best case scenario that I see, we escape relegation this season but sell players like Mamardashvili and Musah in the summer, replace them with loan players from Barcelona or Atletico Madrid's b-teams and then get relegated next season instead. Fans who naively hope that may improve things will be disappointed. Relegation will make a poor financial situation much worse, as the cases of Malaga, Zaragoza and Depor show. It would not remotely surprise me to see Lim hang on after relegation and even in the miraculous event he sells, there are plenty more "Lims" out there. We are screwed and I don't see a way out.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Valencia CF vs Athletic Bilbao Match Preview

I had relative confidence with Voro at the helm of this team, but all that came crashing down with two consecutive defeats. Voro's first match was a really difficult one with him taking on Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, though I expected to see a strong and solid Valencia CF that would cause Real Madrid trouble and truth be told they did in the first half. Then in the second half the team felt apart and conceded two preventable goals, it seems as if the team started in 3rd gear and couldn't get going in the second half, enough for Real Madrid to score two goals and claim the victory! Real Madrid wasn't playing exceptional football either and Valencia CF did have a chance. 

Then Valencia CF played against Girona one of the relatively weaker teams and I believe anyone in the world would have told you that Valencia CF is the slight favorite even with its bad form and string of bad results. Turns out Valencia CF can't even beat Girona and can't even outplay it either! Girona had more posession, more shots on goal, more shots off target, more corner kicks, more attacks and more blocks. Girona outplayed Valencia CF in every department! Valencia CF also played what I consider its strongest team with Lato and Gaya on the left flank, Yunus and Foulquier on the other flank and Hugo and Almedia in the middle, with the inform Cenk and Eray Comert at the center of defense, completing the team were Lino and Cavani up front! The only player missing that could have made this team slightly better in Correia, but I'm grasping at straws here!

Valencia's next opponent is the tricky and always challenging Athletic Bilbao, Valencia CF will be looking to end its string of 4 defeats in La Liga and 5 overall losses in the last 6 matches. How would they do that I have no clue, I'm all out of ideas and I'm hoping that Voro can figure it out and bring a new perspective for the team. 

Every time I expect a win, or a decent result Valencia CF always falters and suffers a defeat, so now I'm actually expecting and predicting a loss. If Valencia CF can't win against Girona to avoid relegation and get back on track to at least a mid-table finish, then I don't see it happening against Athletic Bilbao. I'm predicting a 2-1 victory for Bilbao! 

I'm expecting pretty much the same lineup from last match, with maybe one of two changes, though I really don't know what to expect right now. Voro is a conservative guy, I have a feeling he is going to stick to his guns and play the same team with maybe one or two changes, probably the same formation and tactics as well, though he might surprise and change everything, if things aren't working with what's tried and tested, then maybe some radical changes are needed, although Valencia's options are limited. We have Hugo Duro who could replace say Toni Lato, Samu Castillejo who can replace Lino, but those are the options. In midfield we are paper thin both in the center and on the flanks, Justin Kluivert is out injured so he is not an option either. 

I'm expecting a loss, I would be extremely surprised if Valencia CF managed anything else as depressing as that is to write!