Showing posts with label editorial. Show all posts
Showing posts with label editorial. Show all posts

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.

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.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Why is Valencia CF underprerforming?

Why is Valencia CF underperforming or is this the maximum this squad can give? I was shocked when Valencia CF lost last match against Deportivo Alaves the second worst team in La Liga currently. A team that has conceded 38 goals and can't even score 1 goal per game, but against Valencia CF they scored two goals and made Valencia CF look like the relegation team. 

I was very pleased with the way Valencia played against Athletic Bilbao in the cup, it was a scrappy match for big parts, but we saw an attacking Valencia CF side that seemed capable of scoring goals at any given moment and we gave Bilbao a big scare, losing at home to a Valencia side that is struggling in the league, when they beat Real Madrid and Barcelona before us to reach the semi final. 

Little did I know none of that fighting spirit and attacking quality would transfer over to the league match. Jose Bordalas fielded a very strong team, we had Guedes in attack, Soler in midfield, Thierry in defense, Yunus had done well in central midfield in the previous matches he started, so it was all good, this was 95% the strongest team, we missed Bryan Gil, Hugo Duro and Gaya, but apart from Gil who is world class, I don't see how Hugo or Gaya would have made a difference and truth is they didn't when they were introduced on half time. In fact it took a penalty for Valencia CF to equalize the score, but then Alaves were awarded one as well and they clinched the match. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

The transfer window closes: Helder Costa signed on loan

 So the transfer window closed a few minutes ago. Multiple sources saying we've added Helder Costa, and that's only waiting official confirmation.

From senior players, we lost Gameiro, KangIn, Sobrino and Mangala. Of those KangIn leaving for free is the only one that stings. Mangala was far too injury prone for anyone to care. Gameiro played a key role in the run to win the Copa but was otherwise a disappointing signing. Sobrino, apart from a fantastic debut against Celtic was just taking up a squad place. The club also made efforts to move out Jason, but could not find a taker. 

From more junior players, defenders Javi Jimenez and Guillem Molina left to join third level Albacete and Sabadell respectively. Both had a similar history at Valencia: a disastrous debut in the Copa (Jimenez got owned by Iago Aspas and gave away a penalty, Molina was sent off) and little game time after. It's unlikely they'd have played much of a role with us. 

Everyone who left did so on a free transfer, it must be decades since we got absolutely no money in the transfer window?

Of course, like the dog in the night in the Sherlock Holmes story what is probably important is not what happened, but what didn't happen. The club went into the transfer window looking to move out Diakhaby, Cheryshev and Guedes, being open to offers for Maxi and with Wass also pushing for an exit. There will be disappointment that we couldn't move out Diakhaby for Djene but the others are very good news. Cheryshev has started the season well and Wass is an experienced utility player who never gets injured. 

The best news is Guedes. This year we've seen him in excellent form. In the last 16 games he's been involved in at least 12 goals: scoring 5 with 7 assists, and those don't even count the goal scored by Wass last game where Guedes was key in the build-up.

In total Valencia has added 6 players, four on loan with buy options. Mamardashvili was only supposed to play for the reserves but impressed enough that he was given a chance due to injuries and he's taken it with both gloves. Alderete already looks like a vast improvement on Mangala. 

The others are unknown as yet but include Foulquier who is a right back capable of covering right wing or left back, Marcos Andre a forward. Hugo Duro, another forward who can play on the wings, and finally Helder Costa. I saw Costa at Wolves. He did really well at the second level but struggled to make an impact in the top flight. He's mainly a right winger but can also cover left wing. In the end the squad looks something like this:

While there are some disappointments, like not getting Arambarri, I think it's been a very good transfer window, keeping key players like Wass and especially Guedes and adding more depth. Let's hope that this squad can push for Europe.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Peter Lim inadequate leadership strikes again

Peter Lim - Valencia CF
Javi Gracia was a defeated man as early as his arrival, he was promised several reinforcements, but all he got was a mass giveaway of established and core players. It wasn't even a sellout, few players actually got sold for decent sums, most of them were literally given away or released from their contracts, Valencia CF barely got any money out of big exodus. 

So as soon as Javi Gracia arrived, as soon as Meriton's promises were broken. In fact he did come out at the start of the season to talk about the lack of signings and that he was informed there would be signings to cover for some of the players that left, but there weren't any. He downplayed it all and talked about how great some of the younger players are, how the team can build a team from scratch with youth players, but he was clearly downplaying the severity of the situation and trying to appease his new employer.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Valencia CF shouldn't sell its best and most senior players

Valencia CF wallpaper
Warning: Long wall of text!

There is a lot of talk these days and pretty much every season toward the end of it about selling players and rebuilding the squad and this and that, but while selling players way past their prime or just flops is perfectly fine and should be done, in fact its probably a necessity, Valencia CF should not sell its best and most senior players.

I see articles and comments on various sites how people wouldn't mind Valencia selling Jose Luis Gaya or Carlos Soler or Goncalo Guedes, etc... after all these players will bring the most amount of money, with one sale Valencia CF can balance the books and have a little bit left over for 1 replacement, but if we want sporting success, if we want Valencia CF to be competitive again we should not sell our best and most senior players! Players like Soler, Gaya, Guedes, Paulista, Jaume, etc... should not be sold at any circumstances. 

I understand people can become frustrated with some of the players poorer performances and are willing to sell those players momentarily, but just as we are seeing with Guedes now, he can be extremely valuable if played at the right position and with the right tactics. Allow him roaming freedom and play him as a forward and he excels in that position. We see how big of a difference just a position change can make, so if Gaya or Soler has poor form or even a bad season, we've seen these players perform very good, if they are underperforming the solution isn't to sell them, its to build a team around them, its to fit the formation and tactics TO the players, not the other way around! 

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Valencia CF season 2021/22 plans

Valencia CF wallpaper
There are a dozen of things that will 100% happen in the next season. First of all Valencia CF will have to sell players in order to earn around 40 million euros, about 30 million euros to balance the books and an additional 10 million euros for replacements, mostly players from second division clubs.

Second Valencia CF will need to reduce its wage bill, so that means not only will the sold players have to bring in a lot of money, but they have to be one of the highest earners in the club in order to reduce the wage bill, that means at least one of Guedes, Maxi, Cillessen, and/or Gaya will have to be sold.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Super league will destroy football

 I'm sure everyone will have seen the plans for a European Super League, with 15 fixed members: three to be decided, 6 English, the Milans, Juventus and the Spanish Big Three. That latter group would once have included Valencia but it's a sign of how far we've fallen in the last decade that no one questions us being absent and no one even has to ask who the big three in Spain are.

The plan is to have those 15, plus 5 extra teams each year. Whether they would qualify or just be invited is unclear. The clubs involved don't intend this to be a breakaway: they plan to participate in this as well as playing in the national leagues, gambling on the fact that the national leagues won't kick them out. They also promise a solidarity fund greater than there is at the minute for other clubs. 

The Super League idea has been around for ages. "Footballer of the year" a game I played on the MSX computer back in the 1980s included a European Super League, as did later games and it was the idea of it that caused UEFA to bring a group stage into the European Cup in the 1990s.  Ultimately, their attempts at concessions to big clubs have clearly failed. Pandering to greed has just produced more greed.

All the 15 clubs participating would get 350 million euro a year just for taking part, with prize money of around 50 million. That compares to the current situation where a team winning the English Premier and Champions league double would get 230 million. Needless to say, for clubs like Arsenal and Milan, who have frequently been absent, it's a considerable windfall.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Is Maxi Gomez sale the fix for Valencia CF financial issues?

There has been a lot of reports lately about players being sold and bought by Valencia CF, with one of the most mentioned names being Goncalo Guedes. I reported about Valencia CF planning to sell Goncalo Guedes quite a while ago and if you go and read that article you'll see that Valencia CF has financial pressure from multiple sides, including the Valencian government who are planning to impose certain penalties as the club has done met its obligations to build the new Mestalla in the timeframe agreed with the city and actually renegotiated few times as well. 

Either way Valencia CF have to acquire about 30 million euros to balance the books for this year and the easiest target seemed to be Guedes as he hasn't really justified his high price tag, but with his performances improving significantly the past couple of matches, his sale has become more complicated. He's shown that he can be an asset to Valencia CF and overall this season he's been one of the better performing players overall, though he's had his ups and downs like all of the rest of our players. 

To make matters even more complicated Wolves has now entered the picture and want to purchase Guedes, their initial plan was about 20 million euros plus Patrick Cutrone, though Valencia CF have recently been interested in Rafa Mir who is also a Wolves player, though realistically I doubt Rafa Mir would want to join Valencia CF as he didn't leave on the best of terms and there are clubs like Sevilla and Atletico Madrid interested in him. 

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Fans must return to the stadiums

Its now been year and a half since Covid19 and for most of that time stadiums have been empty. This has caused major financial troubles especially for the smaller clubs, the big clubs like Manchester City or Bayern Munich or Real Madrid have major sponsors and gigantic fanbases, over 80% of their income is other than ticket sales, but smaller clubs rely very much on their ticket sales, in fact for some clubs ticket sales account for about 50% of their income, so being without audiences for year and a half and as it seems likely even two years, governments and football associations must begin to think about opening up and allowing people back into the stadiums, before a permanent financial damage is done and clubs start going bankrupt left and right.

Whether it starts with stadiums only being able to be half full, whether masks are required to attend the games, whatever the case might be, stadiums need to start opening up. You can not have empty stadiums forever, you can not have no fans in matches forever, its unrealistic and dangerous. The fact that governments haven't even thought about the possibility of returning fans is mind blowing, especially as we are closing in on two years of complete shutdown of stadiums, not just in football, but in all other sports. Major financial damage is being done and can't be undone, can't be fixed, can't be reversed, you have clubs like ours who were already in a bad financial situation and not being able to generate revenue through tickets is really destroying Valencia CF. 

Monday, March 29, 2021

Valencia CF needs to secure our top players

Valencia CF is not in a position to make any purchases, not unless it sells players in excess of 40 million euros and lowers the wage bill significantly, and then able to bring in few cheap replacements, otherwise Valencia CF can not pay even a penny out of its pocket to acquire a new player. With that said we need to keep the key players we currently have for the long haul.

I'm talking about players like Soler, Gaya, Paulista, Kang-In, Correia, and yes controversially Guedes as well, because I still believe he is an asset and can be more consistently better if the coach utilizes him better and in better positions.

We can not afford to lose any of the players above, that would be devastating for the club and would probably put Valencia CF right into relegation territory. We've had so much reports about princes and investment funds and whatnot buying Valencia CF, but regardless of who the owner is the club needs to secure these players contracts. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Peter Lim sell Valencia CF NOW

Peter Lim you need to sell Valencia CF. You've failed and failed miserably, everyone who is a Valencia CF fan hates you, even fans of other clubs who read about your story hate you, because they've too experienced similar things with their clubs in the past and even your own people hate you. Former close associates of yours have admitted publicly that you and them had no clue what you were doing and that you are a terrible club manager, owner. 

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Can Javi Gracia turn things around?

We all know why Valencia CF is in its current position and how and why we got here, I've written about it and so have other people and websites, but that doesn't mean we can excuse everything the coach does. Yes, we have a weaker squad than last season, yes we didn't get any reinforcements, yes the mid season reinforcements weren't even on people's last places on their lists, but our week to week results still have to be looked at and analyzed on their own merit. 

I feel for Javi Gracia, he was chosen in a really bad situation and hasn't gotten any signings that he was promised, so he was lied to from the start. With all of that our of the way he still bears some responsibility for the results we are getting. So the question is can Valencia CF coach Javi Gracia turn things around or is it time to 'think' about a new coach? Is it time to 'think'(not act) about a new coach? 

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Peter Lim is his own worst enemy

Peter Lim has no sporting understanding of a football club, has no historical knowledge about Valencia CF or any other club, is not an avid football fan himself, but that doesn't matter and is not the main reason Valencia CF is the dire straits it is now! The reason Valencia CF finds itself in the current position is because Peter Lim's gigantic ego! He would rather have the club fail and lose money and go bankrupt and everything else, rather than have a manager who speaks his mind and goes against Peter Lim's fantasies! 

All Peter Lim had to do was check his ego and not act irrationally and just keep Marcelino and our sporting director! We came off after one of the most successful seasons in recent history, winning the Spanish cup, qualifying for champions league 2 times in a row and finally having a solid team that we can work with and build upon! 

Well we still had the same team and they should have achieved the same results without Marcelino, some would say! The simple fact is that changing a very successful and beloved coach essentially in the middle of the campaign for no good reason, other than Lim's ego, that affects the players mentally! There is no human that is going to be unaffected with such a big shift. 

So then we lost our champions league spot, which meant less money coming in since we are placing in worse positions, we have less prestige, less negotiating power with advertisers, so that is even less money and a sporting mistake became a financial one as well! 

Hopefully the rumors about the prince are real and we are getting a new owner, because I've only seen like few good decisions by Lim and that is when he backed off and put Mateu Alemany as sporting director and other serious and competent people to lead Valencia CF and that is when we had success. 

Hopefully a new chapter can begin without Peter Lim.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Transfer Market Closes: Disaster for Valencia

The transfer market has officially closed and it can only be summed up as an absolute failure for Valencia.

Upon Javi Gracia's signing for the club, he was made aware of the plans to cut down on expenses which meant finding other destinations for players with significant salaries, as well as those whose sales can fetch a good price. He was also promised that this was a necessary action but (cheaper) signings will be made to fill the gap and reinforce the squad. Javi Gracia evaluated the team and thought he needed around 5 signings, 3 certain - a central defender, a central defensive midfielder and a right-back, and 2 conditional - a goalkeeper (if Cillissen leaves) and a forward (if Gameiro leaves). 

Murthy had made public that there was a lack of liquidity at the club and that sales had to made to balance the budget, especially with COVID's impact on ticket sales and revenue. What was also made public was a "blacklist" of players that Valencia was willing to offload in the transfer market. With these two pieces of news, other clubs knew it was a bargain sale at Valencia.

Garay had already left as the club didn't renew his contract in the previous season. Ferran left to Manchester City for 25 million euros plus bonuses. Parejo went to Villareal free of charge while Coquelin followed to the same destination for 12 million euros. Rodrigo would return to the Premier League with Leeds for a 30 million euro fee. These were core players for the team in previous season. Additionally, Jaume Costa returned to Villareal, Piccini was loaned to Atalanta and Florenzi wasn't renewed. 

Arriving to Valencia were players returning from there loans like Racic, Jason Remeseiro, and Toni Lato. To cope with the shortage of players, Javi Gracia gave Guillamon, Yunus Musah, Alex Blanco and Esquerdo game time with the first team. 

After three weeks in charge and slightly before the first game of the season against Levante, Gracia made his thoughts clear in the press conference that he was losing confidence in the managements ability to deliver quality signings, if any. This drew some anger from Anil Murthy who reportedly stormed out of a meeting between the two of them. The communication between the two, at least with regards to transfers, stopped completely after that. Javi Gracia took the word of the management and refused to comment further in press conferences.

 A few rounds into the new season and the weaknesses as well as the lack of depth in the squad become evident. Even in games that the team would walk away with a positive result, the team looked vulnerable. 

Recently, even the Mestalla B team had transfers out of the club. Javi Jimenez was loaned at the beginning of the window to Albacete. This last week Alex Carbonell was let go on a free transfer to FC Luzern with percentage reserved on future sales. Alex Centelles, free transfer, to Almeria also with a percentage reserved on future sale. It looks likely that Esquerdo will also be on the way out, with Almeria the most likely destination.

A lot of fans figured that, similar to previous years, transfers would likely come at the very last few days of the window. They watched as the club failed to secure player after player with which they have been linked. 

Now that the transfer market has closed, Javi Gracia got nothing. He was lied to, left in the cold, abandoned, betrayed, deceived. It seemed like he as figured as much from his demeanor.

Now, Plazadeportiva reports that Gracia has requested a meeting with Murthy and is seriously considering resignation. Previous coach Prandelli had the patience to wait 3 months for the club to get its act together, Gracia is fed up already.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Valencia's transfer issues

We are now 2 weeks away from the end of La Liga's transfer window. Given Valencia's financial situation, little was expected but, with 5 key players departing, some movement was expected well before the season started.

How did we get here? The lack of European football is a factor. Even Europa league would have given us some 15 million to spend on transfers. A key issue people have missed is the Cillessen situation. The club were clearly banking on him leaving and for a reasonable transfer fee. (20 million?) His injury means it's very questionable if he should leave. He was rubbish pre-Covid and then found his groove after that. But besides, what a lot of people miss is that the financial problem goes back further than that. 

With money still owed for the transfers of Zaza, Guedes, Kondogbia etc, Valencia were short nearly 30 million in the 2018-19 accounts. The obvious way to solve that would have been to sell a player like Rodrigo. Instead, the club took a more creative approach, doing a financial fiddle with Barcelona. The latter had a surplus for that season due to still getting money from the Neymar move but needed cash to fund Greizmann's arrival.

The solution? 

At Barcelona, Cillessen was fed up being a useless bench warmer and wanted regular playing time.

At Valencia, Neto was fed up having regular playing time and wanted to be a useless bench warmer.

So Neto moved to Barcelona for 28 million with the transfer effective in the 2018-19 season. Cillessen moved to Valencia for 35 million with the transfer effective in the 2019-20 season. 

That's important because effectively it meant Valencia "kicked the can down the road" (=delayed the problem to a later date.) We all applauded that at the time, allowing us to keep key players, but it caused probably more good than bad, as it added 35 million of problems this summer.

Where do we stand position by position now?

At goalkeeper, Cillessen look decent if we can keep him. Jaume has always looked a solid number 2. If the club wants to dispose of the first and rely on the second, our problems will only worsen. Jaume is not a top four keeper.

Left back is one of the only positions that looks solid. Gaya is one of our few remaining world class players. Lato and Centelles offer great cover. Lato has been linked recently with an exit, with Espanyol rumoured to be interested, but if he stays that would be one of the last three positions to cover.

Central defence is a fiasco. Paulista looks the only solid option. Guillamon looked good in the limited games he played but we need more time to judge him. Diakhaby must be doing something right to earn the coach's trust. Mangala has no one's trust. At least one experienced body is needed here.

Right back looks shaky. By common consent, after looking way out of his depth pre-Covid, Thierry might have something to offer, but it's still a maybe as he's only played around 180 minutes post-Covid competitively. Wass looks very shaky at right back and looks better in midfield. A new body is needed here.

Left wing looks more or less covered. Guedes continues to be an expensive bust, but Cheryshev (if he doesn't leave), Kang-In, Soler, Vallejo etc can cover that.

Central midfield has been significantly weakened. I miss Coquelin as much as Parejo. The failure to land Herrera is an indictment of the club's "act first, think later" planning. Esquerdo is not a player I'd give up on, but I'd like him to be brought in gradually. Kondogbia, let's face it, will get injured for a month or two sooner or later. Soler seems to play wide. Racic looked good but again, it's early days (let's remember that players like Orellana and Sobrino etc had blinding debuts for us: Sobrino scored and assited in his first game) so we need an extra body at least.

Right wing has seen a great debut by Musah but a young player like that does not yet have the stamina. With Soler there and Wass possible an extra addition would be good but is not a priority. EDIT: As pointed out in the comments, Jason is also an option here.

Up front, Maxi has been good so far. Kang-In and Vallejo had very good starts. Gameiro is still to play, is injury prone, and may leave. Depending on his wage and offers, I'd probably keep him, not because I think he's great but because I doubt we get any improvement in the market and Gameiro is a decent sub option. Sobrino is as useless as tits on a boar and even with the shortness of bodies I'd move him on.

So, overall positions to reinforce in order are:

Central defence

Central midfield

Right back

Right wing


Will we get anyone? A big worry for me is that clearly, like Prandelli before him, Gracia was promised a certain number of reinforcements only to find the club has lied to him. It's spectacularly stupid since we're running out of people stupid enough to take the job and it will only decline as our league positions decline. All these managers talk to each other and if they do end up pushing Gracia out, the people they interview will naturally turn to him for advice only to be given the truth: Meriton are not to be trusted.

For me, 2 or 3 good and experienced replacements could give us a shot at European places (6th is needed for Europa league if the cup winner is in the top 5 and 7th gets us the new UEFA Conference league.) No replacements means we're looking at 10th to 12th and losing our young talents. I'd like to be confident but these guys have let us down so many times that my confidence is shot. 

Saturday, August 15, 2020

An open letter to Anil Murthy

 As some of you will have seen, Anil Murthy has released a statement on the club's website explaining some of the club's actions.

It deserves a reply, and I've pinged him on Twitter, though without little expectation of acknowledgement. 


First of all, that the club’s president has taken the time to outline some of the club’s thinking is to be welcomed. All too often, due to a lack of communication, supporters have been left in the dark on the club’s motivations. This has led to an atmosphere of mistrust, bred conspiracy theories as to the owner’s real motives and made the fans feel as if they don’t count. The regrettable comments by the owner’s daughter on social media have simply added to this. So in that context, some explanation is appreciated.

To begin with, the statement is accurate in some respects. Valencia before Meriton was poorly managed by local owners. Decisions were made which created considerable problems further down the line. Those led to some of the issues which the club currently faces.

What is problematic is the version of history presented in the statement. The history carefully skips over the first 3 years of Meriton’s ownership. In that period of time a number of mistakes were made which simply deepened the club’s financial and sporting problems.  

Large amounts of money were spent, often blindly, on “prospects.” Often from Portugal and usually from the Jorge Mendes roster. Considerable sums were also spent on players past their best. Much of that was a significant overspend on players who did not work out: 30 million for Alvaro Negredo, 25 million for Enzo Perez, 23 million for Aymen Abdennour,  9.5 million for Aderllan Santos and 9 million for Nani. Only sporting failure prevented a similar mistake to be made in the case of Danilo Barbosa, who the club had planned to buy for 15 million.

For balance, it does need to be acknowledged that there were successes: Andre Gomes and Joao Cancelo, while Rodrigo Moreno has at least proved valuable to the club despite being one of many players with a questionably inflated transfer fee of 28 million. However, it is clear that that strategy was overall not a success and added to the club’s debt issues. Exacerbating this, the club too often put the sporting project into the hands of people with little or no experience of either presiding over a sporting project or managing a top level club in Spain: Chan Lay Hoon, Gary Neville, Pako Ayestaran and Cesare Prandelli to name just some. Their failures undermined the club still further.

Next comes one of the biggest problems with the statement: “In 2017/18, after nearly a decade, the club started paying back the banks. The banks were finally happy. They trusted that this version of Valencia CF would be sustainable. In 2019/20, VCF had by far their greatest ever income in history. The club won a first trophy in 11 years, beating Barcelona in an historic battle in the Copa del Rey.”

It seems strange that the club claims credit for the Copa win. Two previous managers, Marcelino and Gary Neville, have stated that Peter Lim instructed them to get out of the cup as soon as possible. The cup win appears to have come in spite of Meriton, not because of it.

The major problem and what is not mentioned in this statement is why the club managed this high income in 2019/20. What happened between 2017 and then? The answer is simple: the club entrusted the running of the club to professionals. Mateu Alemany was hired to oversee the sporting side. He in turn recommended the hiring of Marcelino as head coach, while Pablo Longoria was given responsibility for scouting. Hiring tested and experienced professionals produced results. The club qualified for the Champions League two years in a row.

The impact of that on the club’s finances were profound. According to UEFA’s accounts, the club received 57.1 million from participation in the Champions League and Europa League for the 2018/19 season. While the accounts for 2019/20 have yet to be published by UEFA, Valencia making the last 16 of the Champions League is worth over 60 million in participation fees and prize money to the club. On top of that, the club benefits from ticket sales, merchandising and sponsorship, all of which would add at least 20 million to those figures. It also made it a more appealing destination for ambitious young players and coaches.

“We must be a serious club. We must be responsible” is a laudable sentiment. However, the actions which Valencia’s owners took in 2019 were anything but serious or responsible. To the astonishment of Valencia fans and the entire football world, they dismantled the sporting structures which had brought success and ended the club’s turmoil and lack of achievement. Showing once again a lack of self-awareness of the mistakes made in the two seasons prior to 2017/18, they yet again entrusted the club to an untested coach who lacked experience of being a club’s head coach anywhere. It's clear that relations between the owner and the previous manager Marcelino had broken down, but why was a more experienced coach not appointed and given part of a pre-season to work with the players? Why wait until after the season had started and just before crunch games in the league and Champions league?

In other words, 2019 represented a return to the flawed model which had been tried several times in 2015 and 2016 and had resulted only in mid-table finishes. Predictably, this led to a failure of the sporting project for 2019/20 and results in renewed financial problems for the club.

“We need to reduce the cost of our team” is true but again, a major reason for that is the poor decisions taken in 2019, which have left the club short of 60-70 million of income from European football. It is also totally unclear to fans how the financial issues can be solved by gifting players with two years of their contract left on free transfers to clubs directly competing with us for European places. Some transfer fee would be expected and would go some way to quelling supporter unease. Furthermore, as replacements for those players, we are now being linked with “prospects” who have never played in the Spanish league, who are represented by Jorge Mendes, and who the club seems willing to gamble 15-20 million on. Basically, this is simply returning to the same mistakes of Meriton’s first three seasons in charge and shows a spectacular failure to learn.

Unfortunately, the President’s statement then contains a number of statements or implications which are either questionable or simply untrue.

“Pushing to have a big stadium and big name players, wining LaLiga and the Champions League at all cost will lead to a repeat of the past. “

As noted previously, the club is already repeating mistakes of the past. However, the implication that Valencia fans are “pushing to win La Liga and the Champions League at all cost” is totally incorrect. The overwhelming majority of Valencia fans realise that, due to the imbalances in club funding within La Liga and other major European leagues, winning either of these top prizes is unachievable until major reforms of how clubs are funded and how TV money is allocated occur.

What fans do expect is the club to make top four at the very least on three seasons out of six, with qualification for the Europa league the other three occasions. Additionally, winning the Copa del Rey or making the final at least twice a decade. The 2017-19 period showed that these are realistic objectives. Ultimately, we want a club that we can have pride in, not an underachieving mid-table team with constant managerial changes and instability. 

Lastly, most fans would take issue with this claim: “We have qualified for Champions League three times in our six seasons here, and won a trophy. It is no less, if not better, than the previous six seasons before we arrived. It is also in line with VCF’s Champions League qualification record throughout the club’s history.”

It’s true that the three Champions league qualifications are exactly the same as the six seasons prior to Meriton, however two of the three seasons in which Valencia failed pre-Meriton did at least have the club in the Europa league. There lies the big problem:

in the 17 seasons prior to Meriton’s takeover, Valencia failed to qualify for Europe just once. In just 6 seasons under Meriton, Valencia have failed to qualify for Europe three times.

In the 17 seasons prior to Meriton, 8th and 10th were Valencia’s worst placings. Under Meriton, the club has finished 9th, 12th and 12th.

It may now be too late to win back the fans’ trust. Moves are already underway in several penyas to organise a boycott of the club, which would involve not attending games after the COVID restrictions are lifted and not purchasing merchandise.

If the club wants to avoid that, it needs to stop repeating the same mistakes over and over. The President’s statement is a step in the right direction towards better communication, but a flawed one, since it lacks self-awareness, avoids taking any responsibility and fails to understand that a successful sporting project and stable financial situation are inextricably linked.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Keys to the Next Season

The new season for Valencia is set to start on Monday, August 10. That's when new coach Javi Gracia will take hold of the reins of the team and start working with them. As the date approaches, I would like to take some time to go over the keys to the next season's success.


Valencia must act quick in the transfer market. With a long list of players on the blacklist and with plans overhaul the entire squad, Valencia cannot afford to wait. In recent seasons we have seen Valencia wait until the last moments of the transfer market before beginning to move. This has caused Valencia to lose many signings to other teams.

With budget being a key issue for the next season, which is partially why so many sales are planned, we could see a scenario in which Valencia cannot secure signings without first getting rid of the players on hand. This seems to be already happening on two levels. Firstly, Diego Liete is reportedly the first signing for the team but the signing will remain on hold until some players are offloaded. Secondly, with only 3 non-EU passports available to the team, the pool of signings for Valencia is restricted. Paulista is on his way to acquiring an EU passport, so this will help take some pressure off. Any time wasted will give other teams opportunities to steal the players.

Finally, Javi Gracia must give his input in terms of both incoming and outgoing transfers. Lim and management have shown they are incapable of making that decision and have refused to hire a sporting director. Javi Gracia is the only one as such that is capable of making the decision from a sporting perspective rather than a purely economic one. 


This is one that I have seen completely missed in similar articles from other sources. Every player with the exception of 2, have been on the injury list at one point or another for Valencia. With key players unavailable and a lack of effective replacements on the bench, Valencia suffered for long runs in the season.

There has already been movement in this department. Early July, one of Valencia's doctors, Dr.Casany, resigned after losing the confidence of management in the ability to handle injuries, specifically the Guedes injury. Dr. Pedro Mateu took over after. Additionally, several academy doctors and physios have been fired just this week.

A key part in this is also making sure that players who are injury prone are offloaded if possible and any new signings vetted more rigorously in terms of their injury history.

The fitness of some players has also been of question in games. Some players were caught walking or sleeping at crucial points of the game and have cost the team valuable points.

With COVID-19 affecting somewhere between 35-50% of the Valencia squad and recent studies showing that there are long-term/chronic affects even after recovery, the medical department should be equipped to deal with this. They will also have an important role to play to keep the squad and staff safe as the situation continues to evolve.


The departure of Ferran has aired out a lot of dirty laundry about the squad. These were things that many fans have speculated about from the attitude displayed by various players, and it is only now that confirmation has been given. Salary disputes, contract renewals, egos, loyalty to Marcelino and the resentment from his firing and the alienation/blame of younger players for his departure. How Gracia deals with this will show a lot about his character.


Valencia has been very predictable in games this season. Most teams have been able to read and nullify the Valencia tactics and it isn't very hard to do that. The team is designed, in theory, to play counterattacking football. Soak all the opposition pressure and hit back in explosive counterattacks. However, under Celades this was really missing. The team would get 2 or 3 passes into the counter attack and then pass the ball back at the first sign of an obstacle or challenge from the opposition team. Then the players would get stuck playing this very tame possession football without the ability to do so and struggled in breaking down the opposition defense. The team would then be forced to surrender possession. Closer to the second half of the season, the team decided to just hoof the ball up the field every time they would get stuck in this possession period after a failed counter attack. This almost certainly resulted in giving possession back to the opposition. 

Gracia has to be willing to reward good performance and punish poor performance. A merit based system should be implemented over the favoritism based system we have seen recently. Even if the player is a senior player or is a big name signing, if they are not performing to the required level, they need to negative stimulus to correct the behavior. Once a player has their spot in the team guaranteed despite poor performance, then they start to feel entitled and no motivation or growth occurs. 

Gracia should look to be more flexible in his tactics and formations. The rigid ways of previous coaches has seen Valencia adopt a rather strange loyalty to the 4-4-2 formation in all scenarios regardless of opposition. The positions of players has also been another area where the previous coaches have been rigid. Players like Guedes, Soler and Kang In must be experimented with to find out their ideal position rather than simply adopting their position from previous coaches. 


Ferran warned that care must be taken with other younger players to avoid a scenario similar to his. Him and Kang In were in the same bubble of exclusion so no doubt they have had many conversations with regards to this. There needs to be plenty of opportunity for young players to participate and get some minutes under their belt whether that's for Valencia or on loan with another team. Having the players sit on the bench or in the stands and just grow in resentment. Players that do end up playing for the first team and show promise should very quickly be involved in a renewal process to safeguard from outside interest. Players with 80-100 million euro release clauses should not end up leaving for fractions of that amount. 


Building a squad of young players will require a lot of effort in instilling discipline in the squad. We have seen even senior players over recent seasons show a complete lack of discipline. The basics of the game has been compromised as a result. This can be seen with the sub-par quality in all areas from fitness, passing to shooting, offense and defense, transitions between the two, as well as set pieces. Gracia needs to get the team on the same page and vision of his ideas. There should be no shame or hesitation in taking sessions to work on particular aspects of the game rather than accepting it as fact and continuing to work on more advanced areas of the game. If the basics are lacking, everything that comes after will follow suit.


Many fans, including some on here, have lost hope and trust in the management and the club. They see coach after coach being replaced and a few steps back for every step forward. They seen an owner that shows more interest in serving his friends and visiting other clubs than his own. They see a loss of presence and negotiating power of the club in the transfer market for players and coaches. Needless to say, there will be a lot of hesitation about the ability of Javi Gracia to turn things around no doubt. The patience of fans shrinks with each and every coach and that will be a difficult challenge to overcome. However, if the fans do see attractive football, the coach being an individual rather than an "official" or puppet of Lim, and most importantly results, they can be won over and will stand behind him. It's good to see so many fans want to give Gracia a shot despite this hesitation.

Alemany has reportedly made a rather interesting statement recently. He has stated that if Lim was willing to pick up the phone and have a discussion with him, that he could be convinced to return to the club. Despite previous disputes, he claimed that his love for the club leaves enough room for a come back. Unfortunately, Lim's ego will likely mean this will not happen. Murthy certainly would rather retain all powers given to him than concede some or all grounds to Murthy, so he is likely to work against any such movement. If his return can be secured, it will be a very important step forward to winning the fans back and is an opportunity that the club shouldn't miss.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Valencia CF post Covid19

This is a guest article by Abzinho, who many of you know from the comments section.

Current state of Valencia 

With the season continuation finally upon us, I’m filled with so much pessimism when I think about the future of this great institution. If recent history of this club has taught as anything during the lim era, few words come to mind, chaos, bad strategy, uncertainty, regressive. Over the last few years under this regime we’ve been stuck in a circle of a step forward two steps back. Until recently I was willing to give Lim the benefit of doubt, but I’ve come to the realisation that the project he proposed has failed and he’s failed relative to where I thought he would take this club when he became an owner. An owner doesn’t necessarily need to be hands on but if you don’t have a competent management structure in place then in my eyes nothing fruitful will happen. But based on what is clear to see,  lim’s decisions to hire “yes men” with little to no real knowledge of running a football club has been detrimental to Valencia cf. Those who he previously hired who did have those capabilities were quickly removed once they spoke against the owners view point. The lim era has shown of track record of poorly managed club with a huge influence as it seems form his close friend “Mendes”. Now I’d like reiterate that having Mendes as a adviser isn’t necessarily all bad, he has a client portfolio of some of the most talented players in the world. But for some reason Valencia seem to end up with the worst of the bunch. Financial capabilities of course come into play and funds at the club have been limited, even so that still doesn’t justify how we keep getting it wrong time after time. This strategy of following mendes recommendation for most of our purchases had limited the club exploring other markets such as, South America and other European markets. The way I see the dynamics between lim and mendes is, both have their own interests, however by lim following mendes recommendations which have mostly failed over the last couple of years, the only winner in that equation is mendes. I could be wrong but based on recent history it’s hard to see it any other way. This in itself really makes me question what is lim’s intention with this club. 

Where are all our club legends?

Another thing worth questioning is, where are all the club legends and why isn’t their leadership being used at the club? We’ve seen several who were recently involved all gone and never returned and based on the structure of the current regime, I’m not surprised. What really resonates with me regarding the way the club is run currently is Santiago Cañizares insight discussing the many things wrong at the club. The club is run by money men and very few if any football men.

 Replenishing the squad under further financial constraints 

I recently saw comment from lim stating the need for 10-20% cut on cost which I believe was around 383M when the season started. Will this further limit are sending and who will we lose as a result? The chaotic cycle continues and don’t let them fool you with “pandemic financial impact”, this is a story of constant failure by a bunch of parasite who are not benefiting the club but rather leeching off it. With that being said I think my position on lim and his administration is quite clear so I have nothing to add. They only thing I’d ask our fans is, what shape do you think Valencia will be in 5-10 years from now under its current leadership?

I was going to do a summary of each position and suggest who is extendable in order to replenish the squad, but I thought I’d rather just cover the main weak positions.

Here we go…

Right back – we have four players in this position and not a single one is up to the expected level, that sums it all up.

My solution – get rid of all but wass (loan young Portuguese guy) and sign Álvaro Odriozola. 

CB – paulista and Hugo Guillamón (give him a new contract) aside replenish the rest.

CM – sell either kondogbia or coquelin bring in a creative midfield (ideally ceballos). Play soler more in this position. 

Wingers – sell cheryshev, give more opportunities to manu and kangin. As for ferran if you can’t give him what he wants, acquire as much as you can for him. If that’s Barca or real get additional players as well as cash.

Forwards – sell gameiro, sobrino and Rodrigo (still possible to get a good return from him). Guedes as frustrating as he’s been needs to be given one more year. Now that he’s overcome his injuries a lot is expected from him.

Gk – cillessen will most likely leave due to financial constraints, but needs to be replaced as I don’t have much faith in domenech as a number 1. He’s a great number 2, but nothing more.

All in all I’m predicting a bleak future ahead for the club as I’ve completely lost faith and trust in these morons in charge. Don’t be fooled by the countless number of players we’re linked with, we’ve seen that movie one too many times. What will the club look like this time next year? One thing I’m quite confident about is we will consistently be inconsistent.

Finally I’d like to leave you all with food for thought. once this pandemic passes and normal service has resumed will we start protesting against this ownership that has failed the club? Or will we wait until we’re totally screwed before going against this embarrassing leadership structure?
I know where I stand!

Stay safe everyone and please take time to acquire knowledge outside of your domain and once we all understand the troubles in the world today, we can work to something better.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Valencia's mid-term report

There's one game left until the first round of fixtures has been played so now is a good time to look at where the team is at, through player ratings.

The season had a turbulent start, overshadowed by limited activity in the transfer market as a result of the ongoing internal feud. The team then started in the worst possible way. Missing a 92nd minute penalty at home to Sociedad which would have given a two-goal cushion, then conceding a 98th minute penalty to throw away 2 points. After a defeat in game two, a dour 2-0 win over Mallorca was achieved which proved to be Marcelino's swansong. Celades had his doubters and they seemed to be proved right when the team went down 2-5 to Barcelona in his first game. Results since that, however, have improved and the team is in a good, but not excellent position, with a tough fight against teams like Sevilla, Sociedad, Bilbao and Getafe to repeat 4th place. The big achievement so far has been reaching the last 16 of the champions league for the first time in 7 years.

So, here are the manager and player ratings and comments, 6 was the default score.

CILLESSEN 6 - arrived in a swap for Neto with most of us seeing him as a minor improvement. So far he's been no better. There have been a number of quality saves, but also real gaffes, against Barcelona and Levante for example. Mixed evidence. Jury is still out.

JAUME 6 - has proved as always to be a capable back-up but 6 goals conceded in his first two games and suspicions about his weaknesses in the air and at set pieces prevent him from getting a higher rating.

WASS 6.5 - has mostly played at right back, where he started his career. Hasn't excelled there but his experience and versatility have proved useful for the team. A well taken chance against Granada and a somewhat lucky equaliser against Chelsea have been his highs.

PICCINI  (N/R = no rating) was never that amazing, but is missed as a squad player. 

THIERRY 1.5 - when some of us complained about the coaching change, it wasn't out of love for the previous manager's style of football. It was because we saw the bigger picture: more meddling by Lim and Mendes was sure to happen and that rarely goes well. This season's exhibit A for the prosecution is this guy. 12 million splashed out for a player with only a handful of club games. Predictably, it hasn't gone well and all his three appearances have seen the team concede three goals (Ajax, Getafe and Osasuna.) A loan looks inevitable. Him playing a key role at Valencia in the future doesn't.

MANGALA (N/R = no rating) bringing him back was another clear Mendesism. In fairness, he did well against Betis, but that was cancelled out with an iffy display against Villarreal.

GARAY 5 - this very well could be his last season and he looks a fading force to me, so replacing him wouldn't be the worst thing.

PAULISTA 7.5 - has really done well this season, looking a solid defender, but needs to curb his temper, with the sending off against Ajax a clear example.

DIAKHABY 6 - gets criticism from the fans, but is a solid third choice at the back and proved vs Chelsea that he can double as defensive midfielder too. Still needs more experience, as his nadir vs Lille proved.

GAYA 6.5 - has generally had a decent season so far, while not hitting the heights of previous seasons, especially in attack.

COSTA 5 - with Lato pushing for more game time (which he hasn't got) Costa returned as the replacement to scepticism. He's done okay so far, without being amazing. It's noticeable when he's playing on the right that teams target that side.

FERRAN 8.5 - is enjoying his breakout season with high level performances. Ended the year with 3 goals and 3 assists from the final 8 games. The big question: can the club renew his contract, which expires summer 2021?

SOLER 6 - unlike Ferran, his breakout hasn't quite happened and a 2-month injury layoff didn't help. A valuable player, but can he realise his early potential in 2020?

ESQUERDO N/R - somewhat fortunate to make the first team due to the incessant injuries. Haven't seen anything so far to suggest he'll be more than a bit player at Valencia.

PAREJO 7.5 - remains the engine room of Valencia, how he manages to hold on to the ball is a thing of wonder and still scares opposition keepers from free kicks. Just ask Oblak. Now, if only he could score penalties in the Champions league.

COQUELIN 7 - brought in as a back-up, has established himself as probably main choice after Dani with solid performances. Just lacks the box to box abilities of the next guy...

KONDOGBIA 4.5 - after an excellent debut season when he rivalled Guedes for player of the season, he has been a let down, with constant injuries and the feeling that he's only playing at 50%. Like Guedes, fans will hope to see a return to his best next year. Speaking of which....

GUEDES 3 - Oh Goncalo, where art thou? If you were to summarise a Guedes season at Valencia, it would be: 2.5 months where he's on fire and looks like Ronaldo reborn. 3 months injured. 3.5 months mediocre, where he runs into dead ends, loses the ball or falls over and gets dispossessed easily. So far this season, we've just seen the injury and mediocrity. For 40 million, more was expected than half a great season out of 2.5 seasons. His return to playing is said to be the end of this month. When he does come back, he really needs to step up, otherwise he'll go down as yet another expensive flop of the Lim era in the mould of Abdennour, Enzo, Negredo etc.

CHERYSHEV 6 - a good player when he's not injured. That's the problem, isn't it? He seems to spend half the season on the sidelines with injuries, which is a shame, because as he showed with the goals and performances at Bilbao and Lille, he's a useful player when fit.

KANG-IN 5.5 - like Ferran, it was hoped that this would be his season. Just hasn't happened and not only due to injury. He got a good goal against Getafe, but needs more regular playing time, which would probably come through a loan.

VALLEJO 6 - though mostly limited to sub appearances so far, has proved a handy player, with an ability to dribble at defenders. Question is similar to Kang-In, how can he get the game time necessary to improve?

SOBRINO 4 - the coaching change provided him with a second opportunity which he hasn't taken, good goal against Sevilla notwithstanding. Just doesn't look to have the level for Valencia.

RODRIGO 6.5 - forever a player who divides and polarises the Valencia fanbase. Supporters point to his link-up play and assists, which he's currently joint top of La Liga for. Critics lambast him for his lack of goals: just four in 21 games. Needs to seriously improve the latter, though we say that every season.

MAXI 6.5 - has been a good addition so far, offering something different to the attack with strength and aerial power. Needs to sharpen up his finishing, though.

GAMEIRO 6 - a combination of the comments about Cheryshev and Rodrigo. Not a bad player when he's not injured, which happens too often and also needs to work on finishing.

CELADES 7 - has done a very good job since coming in at a difficult time. Won over the dressing room and improved some aspects of Marcelino. We no longer see players ostracised, the team are better to watch and there's some tactical flexibility. On the negative, the defence really needs to improve, the injury situation needs to be investigated and the number of penalties conceded and missed needs to be reduced. Lastly, the team could to with some coaching on avoiding conceding late goals. If he can sort out those flaws, there's no reason why he shouldn't stay coach after this season.