Saturday, April 4, 2020

The future after Covid19

La Liga's two-week shutdown has been extended indefinitely and given the situation in Spain, it's hard to see any resumption in the near future. If it does happen, it will likely see games played behind closed doors.

Various options have been discussed for the future. These include:

1) Cancel and void the season.
From a Valencia perspective, this has superficial appeal. This season has been so-so by Valencia standards with the constant injuries preventing any consistency. VCF are the only La Liga team that hasn't fielded an unchanged line-up in consecutive games. The team sits outside the Champions league places in 7th and while the team is only 4 points off fourth, it has never shown the ability to string together the series of results needed to overcome its rivals, making top 4 seem unlikely. Cancelling the season and starting again, with Valencia in the Champions league, sounds appealing, but it would be with the same seeding as last year. meaning another tricky group and wiping out the coefficient points that we gained with the heroics at Ajax and Chelsea. The biggest problem with this would be money. TV companies would undoubtedly demand their money back for an incomplete season and since that money has already been paid in salaries and running costs it would create huge financial issues for the majority of La Liga clubs. For that reason, this option is one that authorities are seeking to avoid.

2) End the season with the current standings.
This was another option discussed and is one that the Belgian league has taken. However, UEFA responded by threatening their clubs with expulsion from European competitions, which shows that it's an option they want to avoid. It's also inevitable that that would see a slew of legal cases, given how close La Liga is. Sure. it would be fun to see Getafe miss out on the Champions league by goals scored, but Real Madrid would miss out on the title by 2 points, Atletico Madrid on Champions league by 1 point, Mallorca and Leganes relegated, despite being only a win away from safety, while our European hopes would depend on whether Sociedad won the cup. For those reasons, this isn't going to happen.

3) A play-off system to decide the title, Europe and relegation.
An option suggested several times. But since no one can agree who would qualify for such a play-off system (top 2? top 4? top 8? 2-legged or one-legged games?) it isn't going to happen, which leaves....

4) Finish the season later.
This is the option being actively pursued by football authorities. It's the fairest, but creates numerous logistical issues. It would be mid-June at the earliest before La Liga could resume which would mean a rushed schedule to finish in late July. While Valencia would at least recover injured players, their fragility would be severely tested. It would also mean hardly any pre-season before starting again in August. There is also the question of players contracts which finish on 30 June. Finally, the qualifying rounds of the Champions league and Europa league usually take place in July. While that would only feature the 7th placed Spanish club, currently us, they would need to be pushed back, putting pressure on next year's schedule as well. I'm not sure if they could alleviate that by, for example, scrapping next season's Copa del Rey, but it produces a major challenge.

Obviously, news has been slow during all this, but there has been chatter about which players leave and join us.

The debate about the goalkeeping position is now live. Cillessen has been a disappointment. When he joined most of us viewed him as an upgrade on Neto, but he's been worse. One option being considered is the return of Vicente Guaita, now a more experienced and better goalkeeper than when he left us.

In defence, Diakhaby, after showing some promise in his first season, has become a liability and is a strong candidate to exit. He is still well regarded enough that the club could probably make a profit on the 15m they paid for him. Not much was expected from Mangala and he didn't disappoint, looking sluggish and unconvincing. The question of whether to renew Garay's contract remains, most sources indicate we will. Thierry has looked another Mendes bust, but would benefit from going out on loan before a final decision is made. Strong rumours are coming that Valencia will buy Diogo Leite of Porto for 20m. This looks like another questionable move. He has only played 3 senior games, so paying such a sum for a 20-year-old Mendes prospect looks like a big gamble and another potential disaster. Valencia have also been linked with River Plate's Gonzalo Montiel (right back) and Lucas Quarto (central defender.)

In midfield, Kondogbia has been linked with Tottenham. After a terrific first season, his last two have been hampered by injuries and inconsistency. He would bring in much needed cash for transfers. Ferran's contract saga lingers with conflicting reports. Some say the player himself wants to leave, others blame it on the agent, saying Ferran wants to re-sign but the agent is demanding a salary far beyond what Valencia can afford.

Up front there is little change. The club will look to offload Sobrino, while Gameiro's future remains up in the air.