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

Monday, June 4, 2018

2017-18 Season Review: The Best and the Worst

With the season finished, now is a perfect time to sit down and reflect it.

Starting at the beginning, we had finished in a dismal position on the table last season at 12th. The turbulent coaching story continued with Prandelli resigning last season and Voro stepping in as usual to cover. As if that wasn't enough the players, which so much money was splashed on, did not live up to even fractions of their price tag. 

This season was going to be different. We signed a coach that had a track record, experience and was familiar with the country, it's language and the league. The investment strategy for players was different as well: take the players on loan and only should they perform well do we consider investing in them. Of course, part of this was due to necessity since Financial Fair Play would restrict our buying ability regardless. Some players like Paulista, Murillo, Zaza and Neto joined on permanent deals right away (with payments in installments), while others like Kondogbia and Guedes were considered for the future via the loan deals. In addition, excess baggage that didn't prove it's worth last season: Abdennour, Santos, and Nani, was sent elsewhere. Other young players were loaned out as a chance to prove their worth and either come back or be purchased by the club to which they were loaned. 

This set the stage for what was to be a brilliant season to watch and a great success, especially relative to previous seasons. We returned to the Champions League with a few games to spare, played an attractive brand of football, produced consistent performances and challenged the top teams.

From the beginning, we would go on huge runs of great form and build up a streak of undefeated games and great form for our players. Although we did struggle breaking down teams that would park the bus or aggressively break the flow of the counter attacks, we did punish almost every team that challenged us in an open game. The team would be soaring and then the gravity of injuries would pull us back down at points in the season. Our squad depth would be exposed, having no one on the bench to offer anything different. Then, Zaza would go on goal drought, Neto's feet were frozen solid, we would have a crisis in defense and midfielders were used to cover for injured defenders, and finally our right-back would give an opening for all teams to exploit. Despite all that, we managed to achieve the goal and if we were offered this position at the beginning, most if not all of us would've taken it. We actually did even better, as we could've very well finished 3rd or even 2nd.

So without further ado, here is the best and the worst for me in this season:

Best Player: Geoffery Kondogbia

Huge difference to previous holders of the position in previous seasons (Danilo, Enzo Perez, Javi Fuego). Offers great strength, dominant presence and great work ethic. He facilitated our counter-attacking style by intercepting passes and winning the ball back in midfield to start such a move. He had great driving runs forward taking on defenders confidently and producing a good pass or shot to finish. A great asset to have while defending corners and set pieces as he has won the aerial duels many times. He is well liked by the fans as well as his fellow players. Easily justifies his price tag and is undoubtedly a steal for this amount (25 million euros). The deal to sign him permanently was expected and good to see it go through.

Mentions:

Guedes: for taking our attacking game to the next level with his creativity, dribbling and pace.
Rodrigo: great goal tally, really stepped up in the second part of the season and a well-deserved Spain NT call-up
Gaya: perhaps the only constant in defense, one less for Marcelino to worry about.
Soler: Growing talent, versatile (midfield and wing play) nice to see him with the Spanish NT as well.

Worst Player: Martin Montoya

No doubt this has been our weak point all season. We got him on a free transfer, so it was a good deal in that sense. He wasn't always poor, he had some decent games, a few good. But when he was bad, it was really bad and we were exploited. It didn't help that his competition for the spot was Nacho Vidal who was ostracized by Marcelino from the start. He was then left to compete with Vezo for the spot and lost out to him a few times.

Mentions:

Nacho Vidal: I take it if he wasn't used all this time, then Marcelino doesn't value him highly.

Best Game: Real Betis 3 - Valencia 6

Despite conceding 3 goals and almost throwing away a 4 goal lead, it was very entertaining to watch. Lots of contributors, with 6 different goal scorers. Very open game from both teams, almost a comeback at the end only for the momentum to go back to us in the final minutes. Great away win.

Mentions:

Valencia 4 - 0 Sevilla: It felt so good handing a wide margin loss to a rival that's given us so much trouble. Very convincing win.

Worst game: Valencia 1 - 4 Real Madrid

A lot of factors for this. Losing to rival in a 6 point game. The controversial referee decisions at their worst. Losing at home, etc.

Mentions:

Getafe 1-0 Valencia: although we lost by one goal, this was quite embarrassing. A type of game where the other team played aggressive to break up counters, ended up with 10 men very early (25 min into the game) and still managed to beat us. 


Best Goal: Guedes vs Sevilla (4-0 home game)

Guedes summarized in this goal. Receives the ball in midfield, accelerates quickly taking out 2 players, gets to the edge of the box and fakes two more players before smashing it into the top corner from range. It was 

Mentions: 

Guedes vs Betis (3-6 away game): edge of the area, with a wall of defenders in front yet smashes it into top corner.
Rodrigo vs Leganes (0-1 away game): tight game, needed a goal, just substituted in, Kondogbia wins the ball back at the edge of the box, Rodrigo takes possession, runs across the edge of the box and bends it away from the keeper and into the net.
Vietto vs Girona (0-1 away game): struggling on form and getting tons of criticism and whistles but remains focused and produces a great goal. Carried the ball from midfield to the edge of the box, used the defender to block the keeper's vision and curled it to the top corner.
Vietto vs Las Palmas (Copa del Rey 4-0 home game): debut game, saw the keeper of his line and beat him from insane range


That's it from me. Just thought I would discuss this as we haven't had a chance to fully reflect on some of these things. Now I'll pass it to all of you.

Who were your best and worst players of the season? Best and worst games of the season? And Best goal of the season? Other comments or suggestions for improvement?

Monday, November 20, 2017

Why Valencia shouldn't (and won't) bring David Villa back

Let's get the obvious out of the way first: David Villa is a club legend on a par with Mario Kempes. His goals kept Valencia as a force to be reckoned with even when the club was struggling financially and most of us probably felt totally gutted when the news broke that he was on his way to FC Catalonia.

With Rafa Mir refusing to sign a new contract and on his way out, Valencia only has 3 main strikers, plus Guedes, who can play there in an emergency and Zaza's knee condition has been causing concern for at least a month. Luckily for us, it flared up during international breaks, meaning that he didn't miss any games, however, he was in visible pain when scoring against Betis. Marcelino previously stated that just resting Zaza wouldn't solve the problem. He will require some form of surgery. The problem for the club is that that could mean him missing a significant period of time, maybe 6-8 matches. As a result, the club confirmed today that they are going to postpone such surgery for the time being and hope that the situation doesn't worsen. This is a gamble not without its own risks as if the tear worsens, Zaza could be out for far longer, but Simone has been so key to the team that the club is unwilling to risk the momentum built up by managing without him. That's caused the issue of a backup striker to rise up the agenda again.

That's led many fans, such as in the comments section of the last match report to suggest the solution: Villa returns to Valencia, during the MLS mid-season break. The idea isn't without merit. He's been playing well in the MLS, earning a return to the Spain squad as a result. Adoring fans would give him lots of leeway and ticket sales and sales of merchandise would increase. For me, Villa will always be welcome back to the Mestalla, but in a different role. Coach, club ambassador, whatever, but just not as a player.

There are numerous reasons why. To start with, retreads can be hit and miss and sometimes and the whole exercise can just backfire. But from footballing and logistic reasons it doesn't make sense either. Villa hasn't played in Europe for 3 and a half years and the standard of football in the MLS is far lower than Europe. Had he been in his early 30s, I'd have been interested, but he's 36 next month and after so much time out of the bigger leagues, it's asking a lot to return to one of the world's top two leagues.

His age also raises other concerns as well. His injury history is impressive, but he is at a stage of his career now where he will be more prone to injuries. If we are covering possible injuries to existing strikers, then bringing in a much older striker doesn't seem wise. Most importantly, the player himself has consistently ruled out a return to Valencia or Europe, doing so in September 2016, December 2016 and again today.

But the main reason is a logistical one, the fact that La Liga and the MLS seasons are out of sync. The MLS season runs from 1 March until 30 September, with pre-season starting about 5 to 6 weeks before that, around 20-22 January. Why would New York agree to hand over their player so he can get tired out in the 2 months before their league season starts and miss pre-season training? Why would Valencia take a player knowing they'd have to return him in late February? Such a deal wouldn't make sense for either club.

Valencia does need to think seriously about bringing another striker in, at the very minimum on loan until the end of the season. Villa, for all the reasons listed above does not fit the requirements and would be an exercise in nostalgia, not football reality.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Meriton criticises "fake fans"

After months, possibly even years of silence, Meriton released a statement through the club's main website (here) where it defends its position and goes on to attack its critics in the Valencia fanbase.


The intro sets the tone: "Since Meriton took control of VCF, a number of fake fans from different sectors have tried to dominate the news about VCF and have sold fake news and lies to our real fans. These fake fans are loud and are motivated by self-interests, not the interests of VCF, and certainly not the interests of the real fans who form the silent majority."

The article goes on to laud Meriton's achievements, focusing in particular on the Champions league qualification under Nuno and the second place reached so far this season. It points out that many of the problems such as the debt, unfinished stadium, EU fine and so on predate Lim's ownership and are due to local sources, while Lim "invested more than 200m of his own money to save the club."

It then launches a scathing attack on these 'fake fans': "The last 2 seasons, fake fans sabotaged the atmosphere in the dressing room. They attacked the team bus and threatened our players. At Mestalla, they tried to intimidate the team instead of helping them as real fans would. This lame and shameless attempt to weaken Meriton didn't and will not work."

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So what is the truth? The fact is that in some things, they have a point. Lim did come to the rescue at the right time, when no local sources could be found to put up the cash. The club was mismanaged badly before that by local owners.

There are clearly sections of our fanbase who are problematic and parochial and, regardless of the results, will never accept a foreign owner. Some of the criticisms did seem to have some racial undertones, dismissing Lim as a "chino" or Chinese when he's from Singapore, something as ignorant and stupid as calling a Spanish person a Pole (since the distances are comparable.) From that flowed some weird and wacky conspiracy theories, such as the one that Lim had bought the club simply to launder money (as though sinking 200m into an indebted football club is a smart way to achieve that.)

For all that, there are numerous problems with the statement. The first issue is the timing. As I pointed out in the previous blog, Valencia is in a fantastic place right now, so bitterly attacking fans at this moment seems odd.

The biggest problem is the total failure to admit that anything went wrong, especially in the last 2 seasons. The previous Valencian owners screwed up badly, but it wasn't only because, as the Meriton piece claimed, they had the "intention to benefit a very closed circle of people." In trying to play catch up with Real Madrid and Barcelona, the Valencian owners overextended themselves financially, leading to a cycle of debt which Valencia is still struggling with. But their motives weren't all selfish, they genuinely wanted the club to succeed, but went about it in an unsustainable way.

Meriton made exactly the same mistakes in the first year. The 77 points and Champions league qualification which they boast about was impressive, but it was built on a similarly false foundation. In committing to high transfer fees for players like Alvaro Negredo, Rodrigo, Cancelo and Andre Gomes, they stored up problems which soon became apparent further down the line. In the summer of 2015, Valencia had to make good on the commitment to pay all those transfer fees, 90m worth of spending which was only exceeded by Manchester City and Juventus. That meant that the club had little money to strengthen the squad for the subsequent Champions league campaign, which resulted in a disastrous season and mounting Financial Fair Play problems which forced the club to sell its best players in summer 2016.

Following on from that, it's totally out of order to dismiss the concerns of countless Valencia fans as just being those of fake fans. Numerous poor decisions were made in the first seasons of Meriton ownership and one of the things that drove a wedge between the ownership and the fanbase was the failure to own up to those mistakes.


The vast, overwhelming bulk of Valencia fans were hugely supportive of Lim's takeover. That only changed when numerous poor decisions were made which led to negative results, including the club finding itself in a relegation battle.

Meriton's statement would have been better if it had said something along the lines of "previous local owners made lots of mistakes, we came here to clean up those and had to invest a lot to do so. In trying to do so, with the best of intentions, we made numerous mistakes of our own. We realise that, have learned from that and moving forward, will not repeat that." That would have carried far more weight than attacking fans, blaming them for issues which arose from those bad decisions, indulging in self-congratulatory backslapping and pretending that the previous two seasons of shame didn't happen.

I do hope that they have learned/will learn but the statement doesn't inspire confidence and reopens old wounds at a time when people were forgetting them. The statement promises "a series of editorials" so we can only hope they improve on the tone of the first.


Monday, September 25, 2017

Precarious but Promising: Valencia’s Midfield

When Marcelino Garcia Toral was hired, many who had followed the Spanish manager’s career knew what to expect. At every team he’s coached, he’s been a big fan of a simple 4-4-2.

He’s been very successful with the 4-4-2, getting Villarreal a 4th place finish in his last year as coach there, so no reason existed for him to not roll out his tried and test formation. The question was how was he going to bend Valencia’s squad into that shape.

Dani Parejo was a natural in the central double pivot, and his companion would be whichever destroyer Valencia were able to get their hands on. They were quite fortunate to get a player of the caliber of Kondogbia, a player who was a midfield force in Monaco before sinking to obscurity on Inter’s bench. A physical powerhouse, he has brought tackles and interceptions to Valencia’s midfield, as well as a silky touch and a surprising range of passing. The two players have established a strong partnership, but a problem looms in the distance.

Marcelino’s Villarreal would commonly trip and fall in the months of February and March, because the 4-4-2 is only as good as it’s double pivot. This would be a problem at Villarreal because they only had two players for their double pivot: Bruno Soriano and Manu Trigueros. They would grow tired as the season wore on, and so their performances would inevitably drop.

At Valencia, the double pivot does and doesn’t have more depth. Due to Kondogbia’s red card against Real Sociedad, he will miss Valencia’s next match against Athletic Bilbao. This will give us insight as to how Marcelino will rotate the midfield. The obvious solution is to put Soler in the double pivot alongside Dani Parejo and play Pereira and Guedes on the wings. This is a fine temporary solution, but the problem with this is that it means that there is less rest for Soler, who is giving exhausting performances every game on the wing.

Should Soler be the primary replacement for the center, Marcelino will need to rotate carefully and unprompted by injury to ensure all 3 players, Parejo, Kondogbia, and Soler, stay fresh. This will then require careful management of Guedes and Pereira, as they are asked to cover Soler on the wing. They will need rest too, and that will require for Marcelino and Orellana to figure out their personal differences to add more depth to the wings. Nacho Gil will also probably be required to rest the wingers as well. Hopefully Gil will be able to take advantage of the opportunities.

Another piece in properly rotating the midfield will be Maksimovic and how he performs when he plays. He has already had some promising cameos, and if he can establish himself as a reliable player, then he will be useful when resting either player in the double pivot. Should he end up not being good enough, he will make the rest of the puzzle much higher.


All in all, Valencia is in a good place, with a strong starting midfield and a decent bench. However, it will take careful management on Marcelino’s part to make sure that the team continues to perform at the high level it has been displaying.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Review of the season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


THE BAD

Attendances: after a spike in Lim's first season, the Mestalla has been emptying. Valencia saw a 9% drop in attendances last season, with only Betis doing worse. That followed the previous season's 15% drop in attendances at the Mestalla, which was the worst in La Liga.

Concentration: the team conceded too many early or late goals.
Defence: continued to be awful, it wasn’t until late January that we kept a clean sheet!
Attack: not lethal enough and neither Rodrigo, Mina nor Munir took advantage of the chances to show what they could do.
Transfers: a mixed to negative bag, with too many loanees failing to produce. Mustafi, Gomes and Alcacer weren’t adequately replaced, though Zaza may fill the role of the latter.
Managers: hiring inexperienced ones or ones that don’t speak Spanish doesn’t work.
Communication: telling supporters you will not sell players then doing so is poor form and will build mistrust.
Absence: Lim needs to come to Mestalla when the heat dies down.

THE GOOD
Voro: deserves massive credit for steadying the ship
Lessons learnt: while Prandelli didn’t work out, his hiring and the attempts to sign Van Gaal and Scolari showed that, at last Meriton had woken up and realised that proven managers were needed. The hiring of Marcelino is further confirmation.
The youth squad: the breakthrough of Soler and Lato and the fact that Valencia B are still in the fight for promotion is a clear sign that we have a steady pool of quality youth to draw on.
Transfers that did work: Montoya for free is exactly the type of acquisition we should be looking to make. While Zaza was not cheap, he at least displays the type of fight and effort that many other players could learn from.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Under Voro, Valencia has become a top six side

It's easy to be depressive and despondent if you're a Valencia fan. After a promising start, with a great 2014/15 season, things rapidly declined, with protests against the manager, the owners, a lot of disappointing results and a series of managers all adding to a sense of instability and despair at Valencia.

The year 2016 was particularly dire for Valencia. The club set itself up as a laughing stock by appointing the unexperienced (sic) Gary Neville and then, when that predictably failed, repeated the error by confirming Pako Ayestaran as manager, even though the latter had posted a below par 3-1-4 record in his 8 games in charge. The latter would be duly replaced by a figure of gravitas in Cesare Prandelli, but again, after a promising start, the latter proved to be all talk and no results and then rage quit after a dispute over transfers, though cynics would say that he jumped before he was pushed. With "hot prospect" managers and experienced managers all failing to turn things around, Valencia looked screwed. The team ended 2016 in seventeenth place, with only goal difference keeping them out of the relegation zone.

That's the past and it's high time Valencia fans got over that and focused on the here and now. The current 13th place looks poor, especially after a 12th-place finish last year, but it actually masks what has been Valencia's best period since the departure of Nuno. Points gained in 2017 have been:

32 Barcelona
31 Real Madrid
30 Atletico
25 Sevilla
21 Valencia, Bilbao, Espanyol. Eibar

Sure, Valencia have played a game more, but that doesn't really affect that, since it was against Real Madrid: a team who have won 10, drawn 1 and lost against Sevilla in other games this year. If the league had started after Prandelli resigned, Valencia would be a respectable joint fifth after 13 games (a third of the season) played, and with a realistic shot at Champions league football.

Look at it another way to gauge Valencia's performances under the current manager. Counting his 3 games in charge after Ayestaran, Voro's Valencia have played 17 games in the league, winning eight, drawing three and losing six. In other words, in nearly half a season, they've averaged 1.58 points per game. Maintaining that average across the season would be easily doable for a side which has beaten Real Madrid, Bilbao, Villarreal and Espanyol and would leave Valencia on around 60 points - good enough for 6th place in four of the last five seasons.

This is important to remember, because a lot of Valencia fans simply don't seem to appreciate how well we've been doing. They see only the negative headlines, hear or see protests outside the ground, look at the league position or go to the Mestalla to see empty seats: Valencia's attendance is down 5.5% this season and only Betis and Celta have a bigger drop. But they miss the trees for the wood. The question is not how Valencia can improve but rather, how can the team maintain its level, a level of performances worthy of Europa league football and just make the next step to Champions league placings?

I would suggest several ways....

1) Offer Voro the job.
He's proven he can get the results needed. The players play for him and the fans are 100% behind him. Give him first refusal on the job. This would also reverse a trend of the club seemingly not respecting people who have put the time, love and effort in (cf Feghouli or Piatti.)

2) Get a shirt sponsor
It's ludicrous that such an obvious revenue source is being missed and for unexplained reasons. If there is uncertainty over whether Valencia will be playing in Europe factor that into the deal with a reduced rate when the team is out of Europe. Better some cash than none.

3) Improve the squad
Fairly obvious. The team needs a stronger midfield especially.

4) Improve communication
Lim clearly takes a hands-off role but that's no excuse for not having his underlings set out a clear and honest strategy for the club and its transfer dealings. If the club has no money, say so. It will be better if fans are forewarned that players need to be sold rather than bs that we'll be keeping star X but then selling him and, in the process, killing fan's trust in the club hierarchy and undermining people of good faith like Lay Hoon.

5) Think long term
In morale terms, fans can't suffer a transfer window like the chaotic one of summer 2016. Identify targets in advance and have a contingency plan in case it's impossible to sell the desired players.

6) Leave decisions to football people
I respect Lay Hoon, but she isn't a football person and the appointment of a chief executive with a football background is a welcome development.

7) Exploit the Asia market more
Having an Asian owner offers a golden chance to expand in that market and raise the club's brand. It's how Real Madrid, Barca and English clubs built up their funds. Maybe I've missed something, but I have seen little sign of that happening so far.

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By the way, I plan to do tomorrow's match write-up, but the game will finish after midnight my time on a working day, so it's more likely it will be up some time later on Friday. Patience please.

As always your comments are welcome.






Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Importance of Luck

Valencia has not had, by many teams' standards, a great season. The club hired and fired two managers, settling for a man who has never coached a team in a professional league for more than 3 or 4 games. Not to take away from what Voro has managed during his short tenure, but to find themselves with him as their best option shows Valencia’s board is a little desperate.
 
And they should be. Valencia was forced to sell some of its best players--Paco Alcacer, Andre Gomes, and Mustafi--over the summer to make ends meet. To replace them, the board brought in players for whom it would be kind to call gambles, such as Medran, Mangala, and Mario Suarez. Some of the gambles payed off, like Montoya and Mangala. Others look less comfortable on the pitch, like Mario Suarez. Regardless, from the start, Valencia looked to be on tenuous ground.
 
The season started with a wild 2-4 loss against Las Palmas in Mestalla. Though Santi Mina scored the first goal, the lead couldn’t be kept, as Livaja scored his first goal in LStiga only ten minutes after. Then, we had a harsh penalty called against us, letting Las Palmas take the lead. They soon scored again, another debutante in La Liga, Kevin Prince, and though Santi Mina scored again, the game was out of reach.
 
That game is fairly symbolic of the season. The team plays well, scores, and then collapses as the opponent exploits its various instabilities. Two weeks later, after tying a two-goal lead against Real Betis with 10 men--a Herculean feat--a minute 92 goal cost us the point, and the moral boost. 

Against Barcelona, after taking the lead in minute 56 and later being tied up until minute 93, a harsh penalty robbed Valencia's fan of the chance to savour that feeling of holding back a great team. 

Against Celta, another lead was given up. A minute 93 goal conceded against Malaga cost us another 2 points. Against Eibar, after playing a strong first half, in the 45th minute, an incredibly severe penalty and red card was given to Soler for a typical scruff in the box.
 
Luck is an integral part of football. It's a crazy, messy game with many variables and moving parts. A goal can be scored or conceded in a matter of seconds. Real Madrid is a team with extremely good luck (some saying suspiciously good luck) being able to pull "remontadas" against very difficult odds. Many times, a team can play well but still be unlucky. It’s part of what makes this sport so fun to watch. 

Recently, Valencia has had terrible luck. They had terrible luck with referees, with their transfers, with their fans, and more. The last-minute goals, the unfair penalties, the untimely injuries. It weighs a team down.
 
This is not to say that Valencia is solely held back by bad luck. The team has played very poorly for stretches of the season, and deserved the correspondingly poor results.To truly fix Valencia’s issues with form, solutions need to come tactically and systematically from management. 

Still, on a team level and on an individual player level, it has often seemed as though Valencia was labouring under a curse.
  
Can we hope that curse may be lifting? Against Espanyol, Valencia was able to keep their lead and get all three points. Against Real Madrid, Zaza and Orellana put in the two best chances the team had in the first 12 minutes, and then the team was able to hold off one of the best offenses in the world, no small accomplishment. Against Athletic, there were two fortunate goals and a returning from injury Aduriz that let Valencia through unscathed.
 
Don't wash that lucky jersey yet. The trials aren't over, the deep issues still remain, and anything can happen in football. Nevertheless, going into the rest of the season, there is reason to hope that Valencia might have better luck,and that it will create a certain stability that will let them deal with their problems.
 
What do you think? Has luck affected us more than other teams? Will we get better? Let us know in the comments section below.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A Few Thoughts...

Just thought I'd write a few points on my thoughts about what's been going on recently and just to cover some points that I think might have been missed.

Firstly, I am just as disappointed as the rest of you at this transfer window. Here are a few positives and negatives I managed to come up with:


Pros:

1) We managed to get rid of a lot excess luggage that's been dragging itself around the team and getting paid but not giving us our money's worth. Barragan, Piatti, Orban, Yoel and Danilo all needed to go and they did.

2) Despite initial rumors stating otherwise, we did manage to retain Diego Alves. Previous posts have correctly described the lack of identity of the club (signified by players who have been here 2 years or more at least). Diego Alves is one who has been there for about 5 years now. His presence is important not only because of the identity issue but he is a true leader on the field. As far as being vocal and talking to his team, Diego does plenty of that. He should really be getting the captain's armband and not Perez which worries me (Diego might not be in Ayesteran's plans). I'm sure you are all familiar with how every time we are defending a corner, you hear one loud voice scream "Ariba! Ariba!" encouraging everyone to jump up. Or when we concede he claps and encourages the team to get back in. All that on top of the fact that he is our best goalkeeper undeniably.

3) We didn't rush into expensive Negredo, Rodrigo and Enzo Perez type signings. This point might be due to necessity rather than smart judgement. Garay may have been a tad bit overpriced but I am not complaining too much since he is a quality player and we desperately need a quality defender. This FFP might be a blessing in disguise in the case of Mangala cause I fear what could have happened if we did have the money. Would we have spent 30-40 million on him despite him not proving his worth yet?

Cons:

1) We did lose a lot of Valencia CF identity. A lot of the players marketed as Valencia CF's future are gone now. You can say the club is larger than any player and that we have lost our best players in the past all you want but it doesn't make it better. When Lim first bought the club we all thought good now we can keep some of our players for a change. Yet mad spending to no one other than the benefit of his friends cost Valencia CF a lot.

2) Once again we benefit others while we suffer. It's true that a lot of the players did ask to leave and there is always the "you can't turn down Barcelona or Real Madrid" but we're not giving them any incentive to stay or even fighting for them. I mean Andre Gomes's release clause was some absurd 115 million euros or something. We didn't even get close to that. 30 million?! I get the urgency to sell with FFP but really? Why set an absurdly high release clause if you're going to accept an amount that low. We're helping the league champions who don't need any help as it is and we're hurting ourselves. More on this point is that our last two signings (Mendes and Garay) are both Mendes inspired.

3) Replacement that we did get were not adequate and are unproven in some cases. Our defense I feel has definitely improved but Mangala could still be a question mark. Abdennour had one game where he did do well and we saw his potential but has easily been our worst players since. He needed to leave. His mind looked set on the Premier League for a while now so let them take him please. However I don't think Suarez is a big improvement on Fuego, could be wrong but it doesn't seem that way. Munir has some promise and is a lot more mobile than Alcacer (who relies more on positioning) but again is unproven. And Montoya...same deal.

4) We learned Lim's judgement is questionable. They say stupidity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Why are we doing the same thing over and over? We keep trusting Mendes to give us the next superstar of the century and pay absurd prices that nobody else is willing to pay of them plus his commission and have always been disappointed. Why do we still deal with him? This comes back to letting Ayala, Rufete and Salvo go. Ayala made us really good signings since he had special influence especially on Argentine players. Otamendi for 12 million euros was a steal and we sold him for close to 50 million after one year. That is what I call return on investment. Now you invest in this 50 million in 3 or 4 "Otamendi's" and so on. Who knows how many actual prodigies we turned down cause they weren't Mendes related. Yet clubs seem to always sell us their junk and "prodigies" for such high prices and not willing to step down a bit. Yet we always make it easier and facilitate them signing our players. Why do we always have to be the ones to step down? Lim if you're reading...Please get those 3 back, and lets start making good deals again. Getting them back will not be a sign of weakness but a sign that you actually care.

5) Financial Fair Play? We don't have enough money? Lay Hoon was explaining that people thing we get the money from the signings instantly and that we have a 100 million or something euros to spend but in football money gets paid over 2 or 3 years. Fair point. We need to meet FFP so we sell even if we don't want to do so. And even if we sell we are still in a shortage of money. Well why then are we still waiting on a shirt sponsor? You cannot complain that you don't have enough money if you are not making the most out of the opportunities you have. Every year for the while now we have a shirt that's blank from the front and we keep waiting and waiting and no sponsor. I just looked up a table of Premier league incomes from shirt sponsors. Let's say we are slightly better than West Ham's annual income of 8 million euros annually on shirt sales at 10 million (This just a worst case scenario), then over the past 2 or 3 years we have 30 million euros, the amount for which we sold Gomes/Alcacer. But we keep leaving the shirt blank waiting for a better deal. Well some deal is better than no deal. Put Mendes's companies name or something since we like him so much, just get some money for it already.

6) Manager probably is weak link. We have not had a proven manager for the past while now. They all make their way into the club and leave the next year and we have no consistency in results or managerial position. Ayesteran did have a decent run last season but is he really the manager we need? I was thinking the other day, we have a manager that keeps saying I would love to go back to Valencia one day in interviews and is currently managing Newcastle in the 2nd division of the English League. Please tell me we can at least convince him to come here? He helped Valencia a lot and was an important part on Valencia's path to greatness. Who better to put us back up than him? I wouldn't even mind keeping Ayesteran with him. I have nothing against him, I just think it's about time we get an experienced manager.

7) Clubs mocking us? I know this is the least of our worries but Barcelona president said something that I found offensive. I hope the translation was incorrect but he said something along the lines of (while talking about the Alcacer signing) that playing for Barcelona alongside Messi, Suarez and Neymar and telling your grandkids about that is better than staying at Valencia and scoring even 50 goals a season. And then adds with all due respect to Valencia. Some respect that is? Is that the speech they give to our players when they take them from us?

Conclusion:

Anyways, I haven't written in a while, I will try to be more regular but here is a summary of what I thought over the past while (good work from SlickR to keep up with all the pre-season and transfer window). The last two signings especially gave me some hope in that we might be able to compete for mid table somewhere if we play it absolutely right. I don't know if we're ready for top four yet but we can sure try. A lot people I read in some posts (not necessarily on this blog) say there is no point in supporting the club anymore and things like that. The least we can do is stand by our team. There are a lot of negatives but let's at least make the fan's support a positive in the lack of other positives.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Valencia CF horrendous season ends

Valencia CF horrendous season has come to an end and it finished in the same terrible fashion that it started. I feel like now the team, the players and the fans need to reflect on what happened and learn from it, in order not to repeat the mistakes from the past.

I think its safe to say that the sacking of Nuno was a mistake, he technically left on his own accord, but he was forced out by the fans who were shouting and whistling at him at every moment. I've already written about this so there is no point to come back to it, but in terms of sporting results it was clearly a mistake to get rid of him and for that I blame a big portion of the Spanish fans, you guys are just as much at fault for our poor results this season as the whole team.

Now that mistake led to another in the appointment of Gary Neville, former players with no coaching experience, who's sole coaching job was an assistant coach of England, basically couple dozen games throughout the whole year, so essentially extremely little experience. He was looking to become a coach though and he is/was close friends with Peter Lim so he was appointed to the position at Valencia CF. The primary reason for Peter Lim was to get the English media to cover Valencia CF, to have that exposure and surely Gary couldn't do worse than Nuno, after all the team was playing rather poor and even though the results were there it was not good enough, Valencia CF needed to be in the top 4 to 5, not 8th place even though it was still early in the season.

This experiment failed and it failed miserably, sure Valencia CF got a lot of coverage, but it didn't bring them anymore fans, how would it have with the play and results under Gary Neville. I think the play improved in the first few matches under him, probably just because of the players being more relaxed, not having the fans at their throats, but the results were not there and they did not come at all, in fact it became so bad under him that there was a worry that Valencia CF would actually fight to avoid relegation and possibly even fall to the lower division, Peter Lim had to make sure that didn't happen and friend or not his hand was forced so he sacked Gary and appointed Pako who at the time was Gary's assistant.

I think the hope was that with Pako as Gary's assistant the team would improve, it would have one experienced manager and help save Gary's career and Valencia's performances, but that didn't happen, so Gary Neville was sacked and Pako was appointed temporary coach to steer the ship out of the murky waters and into the clear, avoid that relegation spot and bring some good results to the club.

Pako instantly did better, he had few wins in a row, the play seemed somewhat better, there was more organization it felt in the play, it wasn't just mindless play as before, so there was some organization and some improvement, enough to lead Valencia CF to the upper half of the table, but overall in terms of results it isn't good, especially if you look at our last match, back to old habits, back to the poor old play, back to losing to terrible teams which we should be easily disposing off.

Pako was poised to become Valencia CF next coach, but he did himself no favors and the last few matches gave us doubt about his ability to lead the team, his record isn't that good with the team, its decent, but decent for a bottom table team, not decent for a champions league teams, which Valencia CF is and should be.

So here we are now with all the options open about Valencia's next coach, the team had a BIG chance to sign Manuel Pellegrini, I wrote a whole editorial how and why Peter Lin should do it, how it would SAVE us money in the long term, I know Peter is a business man, so I know he understands that on an intellectual level, but I have a feeling he doesn't understand it at an basic human level, instinctual level and thus hasn't signed him as coach.

Valencia CF needs an experienced and proven coach someone who guarantees results, not some no name, not some third degree coach, not some friend of a friend coach, we need top level coach to put Valencia CF back into the champions league and paying more money for that coach initially would save us money later, because Valencia CF will be in the champions league, will have the results to find better sponsors and we won't have to be overpaying for absurdly expensive players to certain agents. Someone like Manuel Pellegrini would save Valencia CF a TON of money!

Unfortunately Peter Lim and the whole management are clueless, including the old/new sporting director Jesus Garcia, no one is thinking strategically, no one is thinking long term, no one is thinking in terms of the big picture, all of the decisions so far have been in the moment, blinded decisions for hopefully quick payout and its backfired and hasn't worked.

Sell a player if you must, we have Negredo, surely someone can give us 15-18 million on him, recuperate some of the money we spend on him and get rid of his salary payments, he is costing the team too much money and hasn't contributed anything. He's been terrible since coming to Valencia CF and if you didn't know who he is you'd think it was some mediocre player that came for just few million euros to be backup to Paco Alcacer, which is what he's been. He was supposed to be a leader, he was supposed to guarantee 15-20 goals per season, he was supposed to teach Paco and help elevate the player and bring his experience, but he's failed completely at everything.

Sell Negredo, recoup some of that wasted 30 million euros, get rid of his super high salary that he doesn't earn and hire Manuel Pellegrini, he's said personally he's like to come back to Spain, its one of the cities he can call home literally and has been, he'd like a more focused project where he can build a team and not not have to deal with Champions league, which he can do in Valencia CF and instead of choosing some English minnow that no one cares about, he could choose Valencia CF and keep his reputation. All we need to do is transfer Negredo's salary to Pellegrini, pitch him the project, pitch him long term support and I'm talking strong, but realistic time frame like 3 years.

Sofiange Feghouli is also out this summer, his contract is ending and soon we'll get rid of his salary as well, which has been improved several times, and while he's played brilliantly on occasions, he hasn't been consistent and hasn't proven a difference maker, so sorry, but he has to go.

Pablo Piatti will also be leaving this summer if we can find a buyer for him, don't think we'll get much money on that sale, but just the saving on his salary would be huge, he was great for Valencia CF last season, but this season he couldn't repeat that and slowly but surely fell to the sideline.

We also have Rodrigo De Paul who will be back from his loan and he'll be available for that position, if we sign Cheryshev we'll also have another player for that position, though at this point I think it might be a mistake to sign him, if we could get him on loan again for one year I'd make the deal, but signing an injured player who will need at least 3 months of recovery is always a risk, he might not come back as strong.

We also have Fede Cartabia who will be coming back from loan, he can play both left and right wing, usually right wing though and I have high expectations from him, I think we should keep him in the team this season and give him a chance, let him prove himself, he is a good player and if he can develop at Valencia CF and learn the players, the system, the coach he can become great player, he just need to be given a chance helped into it, have a coach who would help him reach his potential.

There is a lot to do now that the season has ended, several players need to be sold and/or released, primarily though we need to find a great coach and then bring in some additions that the coach and sporting director Jesus can both agree on to strengthen the squad.

Also I would like to thank all our writers on the blog, especially Mick this year who's really stepped up in my absence and continued the write-ups of the matches. I've been extremely busy, plus the disappointment of this season and haven't been able to write anything really. Hopefully I can step up to the plate and do better again.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Is Gary the Savior?

Valencia have turned into brothers and sons. As Nuno bowed out amicably, there had been the speculation that his assistant Phil Neville might well be announced as his successor in caretaking capacity.

Surprisingly, it only went on air that 'Valencia signed Gary Neville' till the end of the season. What has been going wrong at the Mestalla? This could remind most of Valencia fans of the plenty speculation made when Ranieri was sacked and desperately replaced him with Koeman instead of appointing a caretaker manager for a while.
 
It's a well known fact that Neville will be facing dual and tough task ahead. One, Neville is on his early stage in his coaching career, and most of which if not all were spent in English Football. And never played anywhere apart from England. Secondly, he was given a huge take of managing the third biggest club in Spanish Football history, Valencia. For all those who think that Valencia Fans would take excuses; they're only depriving themselves. All that Valencia fans want at the Mestalla was and is returning to the winning ways.
Moreover, Gary is not conversant with Spanish Football at this very stage and at the same time language is another problem to be faced with.

Anyway, let's hope that Gary's signature was not based on friendship or relationship just like Nuno's. Because it was clear that Nuno value his relationship with Lim more than that of his career when he tendered his resignation honorably instead of waiting to be sacked and went away with huge amount of money.

Without doubt, Gary Neville was a great player of his time. And world of football has had great coaches who once played the same role with Gary during their time. With this in mind, the roaring crowd of the Mestalla could certainly pocket their hankerchief, punished Europe once more, and sing their songs of victory as they were once was.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Nuno Santo spell at Valencia CF

Nuno Espirito Santo left Valencia CF on a low, but his tenure at Valencia CF wasn't all that bad as he lead the youngest team in La Liga to 4th place finish last season, securing the coveted Champions league spot that is crucial for a team like Valencia CF in both sporting and financial terms.

He arrived last season after Peter Lim bought the club and wanted to start fresh with a coach he personally trusted and with whom he had close relationship. Since Peter Lim and Jorge Mendes are close friend and Jorge and Nuno are very close friends as well, it was only natural for Nuno to become coach, even though he was a very inexperienced coach and a big unknown.

Peter Lim brought several new players and tasked to coach of making this new young group of players work, with the objective being Champions league football at the end of the season. Nuno did experiment the first few matches, but he very quickly settled on an established starting eleven team as the team was getting great results from start. Paco Alcacer was cemented as the main striker due to Negredo's injury and the forward trio of Paco, Rodrigo and Piatti worked wonders.

Nuno Santo obviously got quite lucky with the in form Jose Luis Gaya who's tireless runs from defense to attack and back were thing of wonder, contributing all over the pitch in immense ways. He was allowed to have this freedom by the rock solid Otamendi who covered with ease at the back and made short work of any potential counter attacks.

Nuno Santo focused on the counter attacking aspects of the play as he didn't have the most dominant midfield and he knew what he wanted, he knew his players strengths and played to them. The team would defend meticulously and when given the opportunity would start these super fast counter attacks with Piatti on the left who could outrun the opposition and Moreno on the right who could dribble past the opposition and Paco who always positioned well and got to the passes and crosses that were made towards him.
This style of play made Valencia CF extremely hard to beat as the defense seemed impenetrable and even the slightest mistake by the opposition could get punished. In fact Valencia CF has the biggest chance to goal ration in the league and in western Europe, scoring more goals with fewer chances than any other team in the big leagues.

Some of Nuno's accomplishments last season were the 3-1 victory at home over Atletico Madrid, the 2-1 win over Real Madrid who went undefeated for a record number of games before that, the 3-1 win over Sevilla at home and the draw against Real Madrid towards the end of the season. Ultimately his biggest accomplishment was leading this team full of new and young players who hadn't played with each other before and weren't really experienced and leading them to 4th position that led to Champions league football.

The second season for Nuno Espirito Santo kind of started in a bad light for Nuno, he didn't have to have any bad results for some of the Spanish Valencia CF fans to turn against him as they saw him as the main culprit that had Rufete and Amadeo Salvo leave the club. As some of you know and remember there was a big issue with some of the transfers and the perceived issues between the sporting director and some of the reinforcement decisions, which the fans took as Nuno's dealings since he was best friends with Jorge Mendes, Nuno's the coach and so he has to be pulling the strings on who gets to come.
Whether any of this is true and what really happened is completely unknown, we don't even know if there was bad blood between any of the parties and I'm of the train of thought that it was Peter Lim who was making all of the decisions, which he surely considered the best decisions, thus making them in the first place.

I think the hate towards Nuno that started in the summer from the perceived political and sporting issues in the club was unfounded. First of all even if there was issues about the transfers it was probably overblown way out of proportion, especially by the garbage Spanish sporting media who's one and only focus is to sell papers and/or get pageviews, so bombastic and controversial headlines is good for business. Even Valencia's sporting media superdeporte is 100% focused on views and profits, so the truth and level headed analysis can take a back seat for them.

But lets say nothing was overblown and that it was a major issue and that it was really bad, why would Nuno be the main culprit? He doesn't sign off on the transfers, he doesn't control the bank accounts, he doesn't negotiate with the players and teams! The only thing he can be blamed for is possibly working closely with his close friend and agent to suggest players to the management of the club, after then, with Rufete and Salvo gone it was up to Hoon and ultimately Peter Lim to make the decisions. Does this make Peter Lim a bad guy, is Peter Lim self hating and want to make it worse on his own investment? Absolutely not, I recommend reading my interview that I did with Daniel Owen about the transfer dealings and where I think Peter Lim was coming from on some of the decisions!

So with all of that Nuno's career at Valencia CF was doomed. The results are ultimately was finished him, but they were not what started this. Even when Valencia CF beat AS Monaco to continue to the Champuions League group stage a group of Spanish fans were calling for him to resign and booing the coach.

So it didn't take much for half of the fans to turn against him after a few poor results, if he was hated and booed before the season even started, few poor results are certainly going to make the issue big and prominent. One thing leads to another and hearing the fans boo you every game, regardless of results at some point can affect any person negatively and can affect Nuno's coaching abilities. When you feel like everyone is against you, you tend to form a shell around yourself, becoming angrier and closed up, so its no wonder that he started falling out with some of the players after the results weren't that great.

If I was being booed and attacked all the time, even if it was at first a minority of fans I'd get the hell away from there as soon as possible, not as a sign of cowardice, but as a sign that I don't want to have anything to do with people like that!

Was Nuno Santo skilled enough to lead Valencia CF, was he the right guy for the job? There are two tales about that, one is his first season in the club which was extremely successful and one is his second season at the club which is relatively unsuccessful. I still don't think in terms of raw data, in terms of points on the table and our standing that we are in a bad position, we are only 5 points away from Celta who are currently 4th position on the table, 8 points behind 3rd placed Real Madrid. So clearly in terms of numbers we are still in a good sporting position.

From a sporting position I think we are in a bad position, last season Valencia CF had a style, had a strategy and they played it to perfection. This season the team has no style, has no strategy and the execution of any of the different styles has been rather weak. The team doesn't create a lot of chances, something that rang true last season as well, but last season we conceded way less goals and tend to score at one point over 80% of a chance. So basically 1 chances pretty much equaled 1 goal for us, this season it takes us 7-8 chances and often times more to score even one goal.

Ultimately I think Nuno's stay at Valencia CF can't be judged as a whole, it can only be judged as two halves, two stories, one which was last season and one which is this season. Last season was a very successful one and this season a not so successful one. I think him resigning makes sense and is the right thing for him and Valencia CF, though I dread how it all started.

I dread that some Spanish fans could go so low as to boo him in the preseason presentation over perceived issues, something which I explain in this editorial how its all overblown out of proportion by the Spanish media who sole goal is to sell papers/ads. Something which even if 100% true, he has some control over, but is ultimately a very small part of the club operations and the fact that he got no respect for leading the team to 4th place last season even if he is guilty as charged!

I think emotions tend to ran rampant and reason and logic tend to take a back seat to it. It feels better to act on emotion, to let loose, after all its human nature.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Coaching options for Valencia CF

After Valencia's last nights defeat against Sevilla, Nuno Santo decided to resign from his position as coach of Valencia CF. He was under immense pressure and had already come under fire from fans and Spanish media, with last night's loss culminating in his resignation.

Now that he is out though Valencia CF turns its attention to find a new coach as quickly as possible, someone who can take this young group of players and build them up into a team.

Frank Rijkaard is one of the options that are being mentioned in the Spanish media, Barcelona FC  coach, he basically transformed Barcelona into the modern style that was later perfected by Pep. He became famous for his Barcelona coaching career, though he hasn't had any success since, though hasn't had any good options either, going to Turkey to coach Galatasaray and then just a year later joining Saudi Arabia national team.

David Moyes is another option for Valencia CF, he's an English manager who spent most of his coaching career at Everton before being appointed as the successor to Alex Ferguson, only to be quickly sacked after a not so great start to his career at Manchester United. He was then appointed to Spanish team Real Sociedad with whom he has had a decent first season, but was not so long ago sacked due to poor results this season. He will definitely be a big unknown for us, though not that bigger than Rijkaard who hasn't coached for almost 3 years.

Michael Laudrup is another option that is going around the press, he is extremely experienced as a coach, had a very successful playing career, but he hasn't celebrated himself as a coach and has often changed clubs or being forced out due to poor results. His most recent success was with Swansea City 2012-2014, though he was sacked in 2014 due to a run of poor results. He is going to be another unknown if we appoint him as Valencia's coach, though no more than the other two I've already wrote about.

Brendan Rodgers is another coach that is a potential option, he was just recently sacked from Liverpool after a string of poor results and overall unsatisfactory play from Liverpool after a second season of big summer spending. He because famous in Swansea City, leading them to the Premier league and keeping them there. His success with Swansea didn't go unnoticed and Liverpool came calling for his services in 2012. In his first season at Liverpool he led them to 7th place finish, his second season was his most successful one as he led Liverpool to 2nd place, just barely losing out the Premier league title to City.

Alejandro Sabella is yet another option for Valencia CF, he's an Argentinian coach who started his coaching career in 2009 at Estudiantes, before becoming Argentina's coach from 2011 to 2014. In his last year coaching the Argentinian national team he reached the final with them, losing out on the championship to Germany. He stepped down as coach even though he reached the final in the world cup and has been without a coaching job since.

Roberto Di Matteo who's been mentioned few times in the past as a potential coach for Valencia CF is available once again. He came to fame as an interim coach to Chelsea FC as he led them to Champions league glory. He was promptly sacked in his second season and just barely 8 months into his tenure at Chelsea after failing to advance the team through the Champions league group stage.
Since then he's worked at Schalke 04 for one season, resigning at the end of the season after failing to lead them to Champions league football.

Joaquín Caparrós is also available and a potential option for Valencia CF. As a long standing coach in Spanish football his name has been mentioned several times when looking at options for Valencia CF coach, but he's never quite entered into that short list for contention. He rose to prominence at Sevilla as he really developed them into a strong competitor team in his five years there. He left in 2005 to join Deportivo La Coruna who he led for two years before jumping board to Atletico Bilbao where he spend 4 relatively successful years. Since 2011 when he left Bilbao he hasn't found the same success he enjoyed earlier in his career and he's jumped between 4 teams since. He last coached Granada who were last place on the table when he was sacked.

Carlo Anceloti is the biggest name on this list and boy wouldn't it be amazing if he was to become Valencia's coach, but that is hugely unlikely as he's said he won't join any team in the winter and he's already in high demand as Bayern Munich, Manchester City and other teams are looking at securing his services next summer.

Who would you like to see become the next Valencia CF coach?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Possible Winter Transfers

Alvaro Negredo  Bought for 28 million euros from Man City August 2014.
In my opinion at the time it was an exciting purchase even though the price seemed high for a player of that age, however, if he was going to start getting goals for us it may have turned into a wise investment. Unfortunately as we all now know it has been a disastrous waste of money.  Now he is out of favour and looking to be offloaded in the winter, the worst possible thing  has to happen is that he has had to go to hospital for an operation and is now sidelined for a couple of months. Will anybody shell out any decent money for him in January ?  It remains to be seen.  Anyhow, I see the club losing a lot of money over this deal but in the long term good for both sides if he goes as I feel that at the moment he has no future here with the current set up.  Of course in the event of Nuno himself going that could all change and who would bet against that at the moment. The latest is that Olympic Marseille may be interested in him and that a possible move for us to take Michy Batshuayi, although there would be a big payment for us as apparently they are looking for a ridiculous 50 million for him and I don't think we will get that for Negredo.


Rodrigo De Paul  Bought from Racing Club for 4.5 million euros in July 2014.
A player who, in my opinion, and I know many others, has just not been given enough time in the team. We are a team devoid of strong powerful players who are willing to go and do the unexpected and here is a player who can do that. How Piatti is being chosen before De Paul has left many of us perplexed.  What is the reason for his exclusion ?  We have to appreciate that even though we all want to know, the manager cannot go to the press and criticize the players and say why they are not playing.  That would be the easy way out but it is a thing that managers are often reluctant to do.  The latest is that Villareal and Marseille are interested in his purchase so we will have to wait and see on that one.  I really hope he is given time and stays.


Nicolas Orban  signed from Bordeaux for 3.5 million euros August 2014.
A player I have always liked despite being error prone on occasions. He is a player who wants to win and who gives his all on the pitch. Versatile, in that he could be used as left back or central defence if needed and I am sure would also be comfortable as a defensive midfield player.  It is no surprise that teams like Celta Vigo, River Plate, Boca Juniors and Borussia Monchengladbach have taken an interest in signing him.  I wonder if Nuno has stopped to think that he might have missed something. Of course if he does go he will need to be replaced by another quality left back to cover for Gaya.  I do not understand why Gaya has not been given a rest recently and Orban used, I foresee Gaya getting another injury soon by being overplayed.

If it was down to me, players that would be leaving in the winter providing we could find somebody to buy them, would be  Piatti and Barragan.  I think we need a replacement right back to cover or replace Cancello and maybe another left midfield player.

Many players have been mentioned as possible signings but I think that is all just down to paper talk. Of course there will be new faces but I think they may be surprise purchases and may depend on us getting into the next round of the Champions League as to how much we spend.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

International break would benefit Valencia CF

Valencia CF managed to qualify for the Champions league group stage against a very difficult opponent in AS Monaco, but the team failed to win in two matches in the Spanish league, leaving the team on a somewhat bad start to the season.

Valencia CF coach Nuno Santo would be delighted the international break is now and it will last until the 12th this month, so he can work with the team for an extended period and fix the issues we've seen. Andre Gomes will also be closer to recovering fully and being called in the squad and the two new arrivals in Aderlan Santos and Aymen Abdennour would have some time to get used to the city, the club and the players before being incorporated into the team.

It will also give a chance for players who featured a lot to take a breath and recoup their energy, as well as possibly help some of the struggling players like Paco Alcacer by having him in the Spanish squad and mixing it up and learning from some of the best players in the country.
Sometimes a change of scenery and faces can really help you, refocus you and hopefully Paco will get his best form back, just in time for La Liga.

As I've already mentioned it would give Nuno some time to experiment with some players, try out the new defenders, asses their skills and play styles and gel the players together. With Mathew Ryan being injured for about a month, he can also experiment with the two goalkeepers and see who is more reliable and dependable, Yoel or Jaume.

Hopefully the defense will be rock solid so there won't even be reason for the goalkeepers to go into action, at least not often and just maintain a strong defensive line, now that we have 4 options for central defenders. It will be interesting to see who of the current central defenders Nuno decides to bench, whether he'll still prefer Mustafi over Vezo, or has Vezo impressed him enough?

What is your starting eleven team now with all the new additions and recovering players? Tell us in the comments section!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Valencia CF 2015 preseason

The summer is almost over and upon us is a new Spanish season and qualification for the Champions league group stage. Valencia CF faces a very difficult opponent in its path to advance to the group stages of the Champions league.

The team started the preseason friendlies fairly early, though in a standard fashion in Austria and against an Austrian team. Wiener SK was Valencia's first opponent the even though the players had just returned from vacation they had no troubles dispatching Wiener SK with easy and celebrating a comfortable 4-0 victory.

Valencia CF would continue the good preseason start by beating English Southampton FC by a minimal 1-0 and then facing instantly Werder Bremen, drawing in normal time, but losing 3-2 on penalties.

About a week later came the real test of Valencia CF strength against German champions Bayern Munich. This match showed just how much more Valencia CF has to go in order to reach top level, as the team was humiliated by a ruthless Bayern team who took advantage of every mistake at the back and punished Valencia CF. Bayern Munich would go on to win the match 4-1.

Next preseason match was against PSV Eindhoven in which Valencia CF took the lead early through Paco Alcacer and basically managed to keep that result till the end. Once again, third match is a row Valencia CF didn't seem convincing, ever since the huge Bayern Munich loss the weaknesses in the team were apparent and glaring.

The next match would be against Porto, the team had another week to train and improve and show it off, but once again a lethargic performance and a dismal showing. Even though the result was 0-0 and it was a slow and boring match it was Porto who showed more initiative and had more chances and attacks. Ultimately Valencia CF lost on penalties. Nuno said after the match that he was pleased and liked how the team pressed and dismissed questions about lack of creativity in the attacking third, saying he saw enough creativity to be pleased.
Apparently he was the only one who was pleased and saw that creativity, since most people and readers here on this blog thought Valencia CF played bad and without any cohesion.

The next day Valencia CF played against Koln and Nuno decided to field the reserves and B team, but it was still a fairly strong team on paper, but that didn't make a difference as Valencia CF lost again.

Ultimately it was going to be the match against Roma that was going to show the level of the team as it was the last preseason friendly and the orange cup which the team has always taken seriously and tried to win at all costs.
Unfortunately the plan to win and show a strong and great play was ruined as Roma would win the match 3-1, but more importantly expose key errors in Valencia's play and defensive line.

You can read most of the preseason match reports on the Fixtures&Results page and of course check out the fixtures for the new season.

Personally from what matches I've watched and/or seen highlights or read the reports here I'm not too convinced about our team. Sure last season we did great and the core team is the same, but what is a new name, which new players are going to made last years team better? Santi Mina is a talented  young player, but the key words here are 'talented' and 'young', certainly not proven, certainly not prime time ready.

Zakaria Bakkali came on a free transfer from PSV and once again a talented young player with the nod on 'talented' and 'young' again, certainly a player for the future, but not someone who will instantly make a difference and make the team better.

Danilo barbosa is the same mold of player, here on a loan deal to deputize in midfield, no one expects him to be a started and improve the team. So basically the team is the same from last season and Nuno and the officials are hoping the level would improve just by the players we have improving on an individual level. While I do think that can be the case, usually you want several older veteran type players who are able to lead the team and teach the younger players how to be better. The only player that is older, but certainly not the most established is Javi Fuego, hardly the Xavi, Pirlo, Toure, Xabi, etc... type who do so much for the top clubs.

The biggest issue I have personally is with the midfield, I just haven't seen a match in the preseason where VCF established midfield control and used it effectively to start attacks. In pretty much all of the matches the team has always been beaten in the midfield. On paper weaker teams managing to establish more control on midfield and have more initiative.

True, last season the team played pretty much the same way throughout the season and won most of the games, but last season the attack worked wonders for us with the fast paced, direct counter attacking style, but this was mostly due to the high form of Jose Luis Gaya, Pablo Piatti and Paco Alcacer. Their counter attacks were so devastating and of course set piece goals coming from our defense.
That was last season though and you can't rely on the same tactics and absurdly high form of certain players  to be able to do the exact same thing this season consistently as well, in fact we are seeing in this preseason that Valencia CF does have major trouble creating chances and scoring goals.

Personally having a bad preseason is making me more interested in our upcoming matches because I'm hoping that the team can surprise me, show good play and of course the most important thing - WIN. I'd like to be positively surprised and to have a reason to celebrate as Valencia CF beat Monaco and continue in the Champions league.

Some things that have happened in the past few days that can kind of worsen things is the renewed Otamendi saga, now once again Manchester United are after him and they are supposedly ready to pay the 50 million buyout clause.

Other reports even suggest that Manchester City have joined in the race to sign Nicolas Otamendi, of course all of these rumors sparked by the fact that Otamendi didn't play against the B team and supposedly asked Nuno to be excused, with him not even featuring in the squad build-up that is supposed to face Monaco.

Ultimately we'll have to wait and see what happens on that front, if we do lose Otamendi its obviously going to be a huge blow for Valencia CF, having to face Monaco without him.