Showing posts with label opinion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label opinion. Show all posts

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Valencia CF need a new striker

Last two matches against Sporting Gijon in the copa and Real Valladolid in the league have shown us just how desperately we need a new striker. In the copa match against Gijon Michy missed an open goal, a sitter and was subsequently subbed at half time and with good reason, with reports suggesting that he is going to leave Valencia CF as VCF are negotiating with Chelsea to end his loan deal. That said in the match against Real Valladolid we had several players miss similar chances. Cheryshev had a great opportunity on goal, Santi Mina also missed an empty open goal as he fumbled with his legs and missed the whole ball, in literally went in between his legs as he missed an open empty goal.

Rodrigo Moreno then had a solid chance as well from open play, he also missed and later on he had opportunity to make it right through a penalty and he shot straight into the goalkeeper. We can't win games when we can't score goals even when we are creating so many chances. There are some games that we don't create many chances, tighter games and that is another issue altogether, but in matches like last one where we create plenty of opportunities, its sad that we barely managed to score one goal. We probably had 5 games like this and I'm being conservative here, we probably drew 5 games that we should have won, and that is 10 more points right now if we'd have won. Again if we'd won 5 matches instead of drawing and we could have won that amount of games if we scored more, we've had the chances and opportunities to score more in at least 5 games, that would have given us 10 more points and we would have had 33 points now and actually be THIRD on the table, sharing the spot with Sevilla.

This is why I think the number one priority of the club is to bring in a good quality striker on loan, and give Marcelino one more month to turn things around. If we can get a solid striker who is in better form and allow Marcelino time to work with that, we can properly assess if the biggest issue is the coach. If he can't make it work even with another good striker that is going to score from these type of good opportunities, then we can think about replacing the coach.

Right now I just don't see anyone that can make a better difference. The best option would be Voro, but that is just so depressing to have him come in as a caretaker so much and so often. And the only person who can turn things around in such a short period is him, every other coach would need more time to figure out the squad and put his stamp on.

So yeah, Valencia CF should be looking to bring in a new quality striker on loan, one who can immediately make a difference, the winter transfer window is always tough to get the best and/or the ones you want, but we can't do worse than what we have now, that is for sure. Then lets give Marcelino a proper month with the new striker to turn things around, only then should he fail to improve things, should we be looking at replacing him. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Valencia - Manchester United match thread

Valencia's centenary year was supposed to be a triumphant one, with the team consolidating its place in the Spanish and European elite. Instead, as we all know, it's been a massive disappointment, with a series of limp attacking performances making the team simply hard to watch. I usually stick with the games until half time and then, in frustration, leave the commentary on in the background while I go and do something else and I know I'm not alone. It's only reasonable defence and the fact that traditional rivals like Sociedad, Villarreal and Bilbao have also been doing poorly that has saved us from being in a relegation position. Compared to results achieved in the same games last season we have dropped a point against R.Madrid, 2 against Betis, Celta, Leganes and Sevilla and 3 against Espanyol and Girona, while gaining 1 versus Villarreal and 3 versus Getafe, so even just achieving the same results as last season in the remaining games would leave us outside top four, which is out now and I seriously doubt we can even make top 7 now. 

Worse, the reasons for it don't seem totally clear which makes solutions hard. The team and manager are the same but nothing seems to work. Various players have seriously dropped off on last year's performance, Kondogbia, who was a titan last season, doesn't even make the line-up any more, and few people care, as he's been worse than Coquelin when on, Guedes doesn't excite and Rodrigo has reverted to the Rodrigo of early seasons with us. Marcelino's tactics seem too rigid, lacking a plan B, but I think most supporters know from hard experience that mid-season managerial changes have rarely helped us, while they've definitely undermined our reputation in the long term. There has also been the Zaza question, but I'm not convinced that things would be better with him still with us. He came to us with patchy form, had a brief purple patch, then reverted to type, notching a miserable 3 goals in his last 24 appearances. In his home country, at Torino, he's struggled to make an impact, starting just 3 games, subbing in 11 times, usually in the last 25 minutes and scoring just once. He's clearly as out of form as everyone.

So to tonight's game. Valencia will finish third whatever happens. So a dead rubber game, right? Not exactly, besides the morale boost from a win and the bragging rights gained from sticking it to a much loathed figure like Mourinho, there are short term and long term advantages to winning. 

Short term, a draw earns us €900,000, a win nearly 3 million. There's also the seeding situation in the Europa league. The best 4 third-placed teams will be seeded and the others unseeded. Currently, we have 5 points and of the four groups that have finished, Napoli have 9pts, Inter 8, Bruges 6 and Galatasaray 4. Looking at the groups still to play, it seems that only a win will get us seeded, draw or lose and we will be unseeded in Monday's Europa league draw. Longer term, a win improves our European ranking, making it more likely we can get a better seeding in future, while also earning more money due to a better ranking.

In teams news, the four Gs are out. Gabriel, Guedes and Gameiro are injured, Gaya is suspended. I'd expect to see Neto in goal rather than Jaume, with Lato on the left and Diakhaby and Garay in the centre. Right back will be interesting, it would be a good chance to rest Wass and bring Piccini back  Cheryshev will likely start on the left and Parejo in the centre. Kondogbia should start this one to give Coquelin a rest with Soler making up the right wing. Up front, Bats should start with one of Mina and Rodrigo rested and then coming on later as a sub. Kangin is on the bench and this would be a good time to blood him in the second half. 

I'm not sure how much of this one I'll watch and it finishes late my time so I won't be doing a match report tonight. Please use this thread to give us your thoughts before, during and after the game.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Manchester United 0-0 Valencia post-match thoughts

Post-match thoughts rather than a full match write-up, because the truth is that last night's game was a dull snoozefest, devoid of clear chances for each side, so I'd prefer to talk more generally. What we saw on the whole were 2 teams out-of-form, lacking in confidence and performing way below the level that they should, who fought each other to a stalemate. The first 70 minutes were an even enough game, with few clear cut chances. Manchester United were a bit better in the last 20 minutes as they became increasingly desparate to score, but a draw was a fair result.

That's 6 games out of 8 that we've drawn and I don't think that's an accident. After a shaky start to the season, the defence and Neto have really sharpened up. Only 1 goal conceded from open play in the last 6 games is testament to that. Murillo has his fans but for me, he'd be fourth choice. Garay-Gabriel are the best pairing we have at the moment, with Diakhaby a good option when there's a vacancy: usually due to Garay's injuries. The Gabriel-Diakhany partnership has kept three clean sheets in a row. Gabriel, in particular, deserves praise. He's been at a good level recently and controlled Lukaku like a boss last night. Right back, obviously remains the exception.

Central midfield has been more rather than less. Parejo has been average but Kondogbia and Coquelin have been in decent form. Last night, the latter was the only selection surprise, starting on the right, in an obvious attempt to shore up the right side defensive problem. On the whole it didn't work for me. Coquelin looked uncomfortable there and, weirdly, Soler has offered better cover when on, so that didn't work.

All the above qualities are useless if we can't score and for us the problem in this game was the one that has been blatantly obvious all season: useless in the final third with all our attack-minded players below the level we expect and have seen before, with Soler the one closest to the previous level. Rodrigo, Guedes and Cheryshev have been a shadow of the players from last season/the world cup. Guedes was mostly poor last night. Got into good space many times but poor shooting and decision making meant nothing came of it.

Batshauyi has been possibly the biggest disappointment. A less decisive version of Zaza. He's good at holding up the ball but holds it too long and either ends up crowded out and loses possession or, by the time he passes, the other team has had enough time to get men back. Not good enough for a team built on fast counter-attacks. I'd hoped that last night his English experience would lead to improved performance, but no, it was the same old. He just seems to lack any connection and understanding with teammates. I know I defended Zaza leaving but he had good understanding with Rodrigo, Guedes and Soler and did something with the ball. I wish we still had Zaza in the team.

Gameiro, with the exception of the Sociedad game, just reminds me of Mina from 2 seasons ago: runs a lot but mostly for nothing as he usually doesn't get into useful positions or have the understanding with teammates necessary to make something of it.

A couple of general points from this game and others. We seem to be shooting from outside the box quite a bit and most of the time it's well over. Guedes last night and Rodrigo, Batshauyi, Soler, Parejo and Wass, among others, have all disappointed in this sense. The wild shots from distance are a sign of a lack of confidence: patience and waiting for the chance to find a forward would work better. But it we are going to do it, at least hit the target. We might get a lucky bounce or a rebound which allows us to score.

Secondly, professionals of this level shouldn't be letting themselves be suckered into so many silly yellow card fouls. Rodrigo and Kondogbia were unjustly booked last night, but Parejo did his usual stunt of panicking when his man got away from him and picking up a blatant yellow. We can complain about refereeing mistakes (Pogba's play acting last night was disgraceful) but if we give refs the chance to card us, we can't complain.

Overall, pre-season, or when the draw was made, we'd all have taken a draw at Old Trafford, but I feel a bit disappointed. Short term. like the Villarreal game, it's a decent result, but in the overall context, it's a let down. I saw no improvement in attack from us. Man United are in poor form and I definitely feel that the Valencia of a year ago would have won by a goal or two. Conversely, had Man U been in form, I think they'd have beaten us by two goals at least.

A result better for us than them, but one which makes it very hard to reach next round. In the last game, most likely Juventus, even with a weakened team, will beat us and Man U will win at home to Young Boys. That means we need to take 6 points from the Swiss, hope Man U don't win either of the Juve games and then we beat Man U at home. Doable, but I just don't have the confidence in the team, the attack in particular, as they are currently playing to believe in this and so I think we should brace ourselves for Europa league.

PLAYER RATINGS FROM LAST NIGHT

Neto 8 - positioning always good and handled everything MUFC threw at him. Solid performance.
Gaya 7 - has been in good form and showed no weakness last night
Gabriel 8.5 - excellent game. One of his best in a Valencia shirt. Always reliable, cut out everything and gave no quarter.
Garay 7.5 - solid as a rock and dominated them in the air.
Piccini 5 - I'd give him 6/6.5 for attacking contributions and 4 for defence. Wasn't a disaster but had a couple of bad moments, including nearly conceding a penalty. Replacing Montoya with him has been pointless so far.
Guedes 5 - a let down. Poor first half when he got every decision wrong. Better in second period but still not showing enough.
Parejo 6 - passed well and cleaned up okay but loses marks for his usual silly yellow
Kondogbia 8 - best midfielder on the pitch, made Pogba and the rest of their midfield look ordinary
Coquelin 5.5 - worst game since his return, looked a bit lost at times out of position
Rodrigo 5.5 - disappointing display and still looks far off his best. Put in one decent cross which Guedes missed, but that was about it
Batshuayi 4.5 - big let down again and still not showing the ability we know he has

SUBS
Gameiro 5 - not much of an improvement on Bats and had limited opportunities
Soler 6.5 - probably would have been better to start him. Offered more in both attack and defence.
Cheryshev N/A - had a couple of good moments, but far off his world cup level

Monday, August 13, 2018

Gameiro versus Zaza / Medrán leaves

Valencia officially announced yesterday that a deal had been reached with Atletico Madrid to bring in Kevin Gameiro, subject to a medical which should prove a formality. Sources report the fee as being 16 to 16.5 million euros, with another 2 possible. The signing, together with the arrival of Batshuayi, strongly seems to suggest that Simone Zaza will leave. The only thing that I could see halting that would be if Real Madrid bought Rodrigo, and they've shown no signs so far of meeting the asking price.

Of all the signings this summer, Gameiro is easily the most controversial, especially as it's understood he'll be replacing Zaza, a fan favourite. Gameiro's age, his price and his unspectacular stats have led to questions whether this is worth it, especially since it means we are helping out a direct rival by taking a discard off their books. So why ditch Zaza?

The first answer would be that the latter's stats are even worse than Gameiro's. His first half-season for us was unspectacular. Then he hit a real purple patch in September and October last year, but since then he's been failing to hit the target, notching up only 4 goals in his last 29 appearances. In contrast, Mina scored 12 playing significantly less time. Of course, stats aren't everything. Zaza does a lot more for the team in general with hold up play, work rate, hassling defenders and even tracking back to help the defence. But the fact remains, if he'd continued scoring at a reasonable rate, we wouldn't be discussing this.

The clearest answer to the question therefore seems to be Marcelino's methods. He's consistently made it clear that he wants a harmonious squad and players with egos like Alves, Negredo, Nani and Orellana or those who demand constant playing time (Ryan or Medrán) have been quickly shown the door. Zaza seems to fit into both those categories. He clashed several times with Marcelino and there were a couple of games where he seemed to be sulking and not giving it his all.

Ultimately I have mixed feelings on that one. I can see why Marcelino has chosen to move Zaza on, but I'll miss him and I'm not excited by the replacement, who will have little resale value. The other issue is that by bringing in Gameiro before Zaza leaves, we have reduced our bargaining power for the latter, as teams now know that we will need to sell him. We shall have to see how Gameiro does.

Mentioning Medrán, he has joined Rayo Vallecano on loan for the season. With the midfield well stacked, and Kangin Lee now on the fringes, his chances would have been very limited. My only issue is that we should have just moved Medrán on permanently. The Rayo deal doesn't include any buy option. I would have put a compulsory one in, of between a million or a million and a half, subject to Rayo staying up. As it is, he will come back next summer in the last year of his contract and we likely won't get anything for him.

Lastly, to update the situation from my previous post about the Champions league. We need one of PSV, Salzburg or Benfica to lose in qualifying to achieve pot 3. Benfica are playing this week in Turkey, defending a 1-0 lead against Fenerbahce. In money terms, we need Benfica and Dynamo Kyiv to lose in qualifying as we will get 1.1 million extra for each of those eliminated.

A week to go to the first game and with Guedes likely, we look to have a decent squad.


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Formation Change?

First off, congratulations to France and all French fans and supporters on the World Cup win. With the World Cup now over, everyone is looking ahead to the new club season. However, the World Cup always has an impact on the new season. The performance of players causes a lot of movement in the transfer market with clubs keen to steal away the best performers. The World Cup also gave us a good taste of VAR (video-assistant-referee) which will be in full effect this new season, hopefully with a few kinks worked out. However, the World Cup is also a lesson in tactics and formations, and that's what I want to speak about today.

I read an article on Superdeporte that suggested that Wass was being experimented by Marcelino as part of a double pivot. I didn't think much of it at the time but while watching the World Cup, I realized that many of the top teams, all use a variation of a formation with double pivots: 3-4-2-1, 4-2-3-1 or a 3-5-2. The champions France played a counter-attacking style as we do, but the core of their success is the double pivot of Kante and Matuidi. No doubt many coaches looked at the tactics used in the World cup either to emulate them or at least to figure out how to stop them, and Marcelino would have been no exception. 

So why change the 4-4-2, which has worked well for us this far? Well, my guess is that Marcelino only opted for this formation since it was simple and effective. Given the time and resources he had, this made sense. But a coach has to adapt to the times and this could be a reason to change. 

It struck me as odd that Marcelino would invest in yet another CDM and another CB. This leaves us with 3 CDMs (Kondogbia, Coquelin, Racic) and 6 CBs (Garay, Murillo, Paulista, Vezo, Diakhaby, and Jimenez). On top of that, there were rumors that Valencia were going to use Nani as a bargaining chip with Sporting CP to facilitate the signing of another CDM, William Carvalho. This didn't materialize. That would've left us with 4 CDMs. Now, this could be for a few reasons. It could be the club is anticipating Kondogbia will be sought after by bigger clubs soon and have already planned his future replacement. Racic could also be a temporary cover for Coquelin whose injury might make him miss some of the next season. As for the CBs, many have speculated that Garay would be on his way out since he has one of the highest salaries and could fetch the biggest price out of the players. However, it could also be in anticipation of a formation change. 

In a formation with 3 CBs, having 5 or 6 CBs doesn't seem so strange anymore. Similarly, a squad with 3 or 4 CDMs, in a formation with double pivots, is not strange either. This, at first sight suggests that we would play a 3-4-2-1 or a 3-5-2. This could looks something like this:

      Rodrigo/Mina
Guedes?/Ferran                 Parejo/Soler
Gaya/Lato    Kondogbia/Coquelin    Wass/Racic    Montoya?/?
Murillo/Jimenez      Garay/Paulista      Diakhaby/Vezo
Neto/Jaume

This is very similar to the way to the way Belgium would play, 3 CBs with wingbacks on either side of the double pivot. In front of them, two mobile and/or creative players with a central striker. Now, if one of the center-backs leaves on loan or is sold, this could be adapted to a lineup similar to France's 4-2-3-1 as follows:

      Rodrigo/Mina
Guedes?/Ferran                Parejo/?                      Soler/?
    Kondogbia/Coquelin    Wass/Racic    
Gaya/Lato     Murillo/Jimenez       Diakhaby/Paulista      Montoya?/Vezo
Neto/Jaume

***Note, I didn't include Zaza in these, as he seems to be getting pushed out. However, he could very well fit in as the central striker in these formations, with Rodrigo playing just behind. Guedes remains a maybe so I kept him but I'm hearing names like T.Hazard, Malcolm and Kostic to replace him. Maksimovic was signed by Getafe, so he wasn't included.

Both formations have been effective in the World Cup especially conducive for counter-attacking football. Of course, this is just pure speculation from my end based on our transfer-activity, some news and my analysis of the World Cup but we'll see what happens in the preseason friendlies and the next month and a half of the transfer window. A lot of the time, there is a cascading effect with transfers where as soon as a club gets their player, the selling club will buy to replace and then that selling club will also do the same and so on, unlocking the deadlock.

As usual, please share your thoughts with everyone in the comments below. Is it safer to stick with the 4-4-2? Or would you like to see a formation change? Which one? Which transfer targets would make it work? How should we lineup? 



Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Transfers update

It's the slow season, so a lot of transfer news shouldn't be expected and with the world cup starting, a lot of things won't become clear until after. A lot of clubs are, understandably, holding on to talents with a view to selling them after the world cup when the values rise.

After the last summer transfer window, when Valencia signed Gabriel and Murillo in the last week and Pereira and Guedes on loan on the last day, we have been quicker off the blocks this time.


Uroš Račić is the first signing of the summer (if you discount Kondogbia.) He signs on a 4-year contract with a 100 million euro release clause. He's more of a defensive midfielder, who also plays in the centre. As such, he's more of a back up for Coquelin, who in turn is second in the ranking to Kondogbia. This is pretty much a "depth"/"prospect" signing along the lines of his countryman Maksimovic rather than a high level signing to improve the squad. 

He looks pretty decent in the official highlights reel but I'd never set too much store by those as they can make any player look like Messi.

Other than that, like most of you, I'm in the dark and we'll have to wait and see. The club's attempts at signing young "prospects" on the cheap haven't been good in recent years. Bakkali looks like he's returning to Belgium. Medran is a goner. Maksimovic has been good as a free signing, but understandably wants more game time and would need it to develop. Santi Mina is the only one approaching a success and it's questionable whether 10 million and two disappointing previous seasons even counts to get here.

This will be the first signing of the Longoria era. The other hope is that it will not affect the club's policy of bringing talented youth like Alcacer, Gaya, Lato, Soler and Ferran into the first team.

The other transfer moves are still to be confirmed. Cancelo continues to be linked with various Italian clubs, though the club seems to be holding out for 40 million, having rejected a 15m plus Marko Pjaca offer. 

The club have unsurprisingly confirmed that they will not exercise the Vietto buy option. The forward line remains up in the air with the official position being that the other three forwards are for sale if the price is right, that being 20m for Mina, 30m for Zaza and 80m for Rodrigo (some sources say 60m for the last.)

Kevin Gameiro is the player most linked with us, with various sources claiming it's a done deal but official confirmation has yet to arrive. He looks most like to replace Zaza, who continues to be linked with a return to Italy. I'd edge towards keeping Zaza, but I can understand the situation. Marcelino prefers flexible players, who will be happy to sit out games when necessary. Zaza has repeatedly shown that he's unhappy at both not starting and being subbed off. Players in similar situations, like Medran and Matt Ryan, who have shown that they are not happy to be rotated, have been quickly shown the door for the good of squad harmony.

The other player most linked with us is Daniel Wass of Celta. I'd sign him like a shot. Decent player, La Liga experience and versatile as he can play centre midfield, right wing and right back. The asking price seems to be 7m, but inexplicably, we seem to be pushing for less, offering 5m for a player who has a 25m buyout. I'd just pay the 7m and be done with it. We are due a windfall from the Champions league. 15.2m fixed rate, at least 16.6m more based on previous ten years, which could rise to 18.8, at least 10m more from TV rights, gate receipts of 8-10m, merchandising adds more and 900,000 euro per point gained in the group stage. Looks like at least 55m even in a bad year. The two other pieces of good news related to that are that we will not have to pay the 23m EU fine this year and will have further time to fight it and that, conversely, PSG will have to raise 60m in transfer sales before 30 June and may therefore have to sell Guedes quickly.

Interesting summer ahead, but don't expect too much transfer news for the next 4 weeks.





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?

Thursday, May 24, 2018

News update

It's been a week of good news for Valencia, continuing today.

First of all, the club has confirmed what has been known and reported for a while

Valencia have confirmed that they have exercised the buy out option for Geoffrey Kondogbia. He signs a contract until 2022 with a buy out clause of €80 million. As previously reported Valencia will pay €7 million this summer and €6 million the next three summers. Interestingly, only two players in Valencia's history have cost more: Rodrigo and Negredo. Despite that, I don't think any Valencia fan who has followed this season will complain. The price seems a bargain given the quality he's showed us. The man has been compared favourably to an octopus, he always seems able to win back the ball from impossible positions, can chip in with important goals and has a lovely weighted pass.

That wasn't the only official announcement today.


Left back Alex Centelles has extended his contract by two years till 2021 with a prohibitively high release clause of €100 million. Centelles impressed in friendlies with the first team last summer and with question marks over Lato, many of us who've seen him feel that Centelles could be a great long term option as successor to Gaya.

Speaking of Gaya, he also ended months of speculation this week by signing a new contract until 2023. His clause was due to fall to €30 million this summer. Pitifully low for a player who has enjoyed a good season and that would have put him well in range of teams like Juventus. The new release clause is €100 million and that gives the club plenty of negotiating room.

Mateu Alemany's strategy is clear and that's to prepare a plan B in case the club does get hit by any transfer ban and that's to tie up existing talents with large release clauses so that the club can't lose key players for peanuts.

Lastly, we're entering the summer silly season when the press for want of a better story start inventing links just to fill pages. One of them this week is that Alcacer will return to Valencia, as reported by Football Espana. I would take such stories with a pinch of salt unless more credible sources arrive.

However, in saying that, we do know two things....
1) Barcelona will be looking to offload Alcacer after two unsuccessful seasons and the player himself will be looking to move on
2) Valencia will be in the market for a striker

Given that and the close relationship between the two clubs (too close in my opinion) it's probable, even likely, that Barcelona will offer him to us. The question is how to respond if that happens?

I suspect like a lot of Valencia fans my instinctive reaction to this is to let him rot and stay there. The guy abandoned us - in our hour of need when we were short of striking options - for another club. And not just any other club. An English, Italian or French club where he would have been starter would have been understandable but fourth choice at Tourist FC of Catalonia, a club he knows are a hated rival of ours annoys. I'm sure I'm not the only Valencia fan who has smirked at him flopping there while Rodrigo, a player who has stayed loyal to us, has taken Alcacer's place in the Spain squad.

Weirdly, despite that, when I try and look at it objectively it's a move which could actually work. He knows the city and club, has played with creative players like Rodrigo, Mina, Soler and Parejo before (not to mention Gaya, Vezo and Lato) and improved in his seasons with us. Under Marcelino, as with a lot of players who flopped at other clubs, he could improve and fit the profile of a pacey striker. The issues would be twofold. The price would have to be low.  €10 million would be ok. Maybe 12, but no more. Mostly, the issue would be the reaction from the fans. He'd be the target of boos and whistles in his early time and would have to work hard to regain trust. Polls of fans about his possible return have been overwhelmingly negative, with usually around 80% against.

For the last reason I don't think it will happen, but I wouldn't totally bet against and am surprised to find myself open to the idea. What do you all think?








Sunday, May 6, 2018

Villareal 1-0 Valencia CF

Today the result wasn't important because Betis losing at Athletic Bilbao put us straight into the Champions League for next season


Valencia again started with a couple of changes from last week with Vezo back at right of the defence in place of Montoya, no place for Murillo or Zaza.
The first half began well enough for us with a couple of good chances firstly when Mina was sent away down the right to make a smart cross for Rodrigo on the back post to his the goal but unfortunately the keeper got a foot to it.
Mina was also sent through on his own and with only the keeper to beat was unable to finish with the keeper making a decent save to his low shot. The ref had waved play on when he looked suspiciously offside.
Villareal were using Cheryshev a lot down their left wing but Vezo managed to keep him in check for most of the time. 




Neto was having a good game and was called upon a number of times to keep out shots from Bacca and others and was looking like the hero of the day. Bookings for Parejo and Gaya will keep them out of next weeks visit to Girona but changes were planned anyway so not so bad,

The second period was a case of Valencia sitting back seemingly content with the draw and Villareal looking like they were not so bothered and were happy with a point to take them into the Europa League.  The half is probably one best forgotten except that the home team spoiled the day by scoring a headed goal near the end to grab the points.

A disappointing end to the day for Valencia but let's not forget we will go to Champions League and them to Europa and for that we can be happy.   

Player Ratings

Neto 7.5  Saved the day by making some very difficult stops proving he is a top keeper.

Vezo 6.0  Did well against Sherychev and shows he can play right or centre without problem. Will he be picked for Portugal world Cup ?

Garay 6.0  Good solid performance again made no big errors.

Gabriel 7.0  Called upon many times to clear the lines and played well, looks like a top purchase for us.

Gaya 6.5  Another good performance but a silly yellow card to keep him out next week 

Soler 7.0  Causing them all sorts of problems with his strong running and cost them 2 yellow cards.

Parejo 6.5  Steady game without being too brilliant. Another yellow card makes him La Liga top scorer for yellow cards

Kondogbia 7.0  Another strong performance if not quite as good as the last few weeks but still one of the best on the pitch

Guedes 6.5  I am not convinced this player is worth 40 million euros. we could do better with that sort of money I think.

Mina 6.0  Good cross for Rodrigo and unlucky when put through but that's about it.

Rodrigo 6.0  Not a game for him to remember, one chance but that was it.


                                              # # # # # # # # # # # # # # 


So guys, talking points !

Why was Zaza left out and then he brought on Vietto, strange or what ?

Why was Murillo overlooked again ?

Did you know we have a game in Saudi Arabia on this Wednesday v Al Nassr FC. good idea ?

Is Guedes worth 40 Million euros ?

How much is Rodrigo worth, do we sell at the right price ?

Would you mind seeing Cancello playing for Real Madrid if we get 40 million plus ?

Do we sell or loan Maksimovic next season, or keep him ?

Do we make some changes for next week e.g. play Centelles Villalba, Jimenez ?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Referees, news and transfers

In the post-match period after Barcelona, the talk, disappointingly, has been focused on the refereeing decision. It's a shame this has overshadowed what was actually a decent second half performance from Valencia. We turned the tables on them in the second half, surprised them and nearly won. The crying about the referee from their fans is actually pretty grating, given the previous two league games at Mestalla. Last year, Messi scored while Suarez was clearly offside and interfering. He even jumped over the ball to let it go under him. Barca won 3-2 due to a last minute penalty.

2015, a similar story. Suarez was offside when he scored their only goal in a 1-1 result.

Suarez' reaction to the ghost goal the other night was apparently to call the linesman "a shit" and "a fucking midget." Two wrongs don't make a right and Rodrigo was sent off for less a couple of seasons ago.

I don't remember the same outcry those times from a media which all too often loves to fawn over Barcelona. People will argue forever about whether the Spanish or English top flights are better, but the standard of refereeing in England is unquestionably superior and is something that La Liga desperately needs to improve.

Now that the game is out of the way, the focus has shifted to strengthening the squad, which is beginning to show its first signs of wear and tear. Guedes suffered a broken toe *before* the Barcelona game and is out for 4 weeks. He might be back for the Villarreal game, but that's 50/50 and he'd probably only be a sub. Zaza will likely need a knee operation sooner rather than later and that will result in 5-6 weeks out. Murillo is out until late January and Garay will miss at least the next game at Getafe. With Jimenez also out to a long term injury, defence, which looked the best covered position now has to make do with Vezo and Paulista with a Mestalla player as a cover. Ivan Marquez is one possibility, with Zotko another and this week's Copa game will allow the coach to assess alternatives.

Peter Lim has been in Valencia discussing future transfer options (he will also go to Paris to try to prolong Guedes' loan.) The two main positions that the club are looking to fill is a forward, with Sandro the favourite and a cover for Kondogbia. Third priority was a right back, as Marcelino hasn't been totally convinced by either Montoya or Nacho Vidal, which I think is a shame, since any signing will hamper Vidal's progress. The possibility of a central defender has now entered the agenda, while the club remains open to adding a winger.

The club today announced the winter departure of Fabian Orellana. Eibar will pay 400,000 to take him on loan until Summer and will then have to pay another 1.8m to compulsorily buy him if they avoid relegation. Orellana got off to a great start at Valencia, but after the first 3 games it all went downhill and despite a good preseason, Marcelino remained unconvinced.

Lastly, the club is negotiating a contract extension with Dani Parejo. His contract expires in June 2020 and the club is looking to extend that to June 2021, with the club having the option of adding a further year as Parejo would be 32 when that expires. I can't see the point in this, really. He's having a decent season, but what's the rush? Wouldn't it be best to wait until the end of next year and then start talking?

The club has a relatively easy schedule in December. Getafe away, Celta home, Eibar away then the toughest game, Villarreal at home. However, progress in the Copa would require the team to play every midweek in January and that will need a deeper squad.

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."

-------------------------------------------------
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, November 6, 2017

Smile, it's Monday (and Valencia are on fire)


It was a year ago tomorrow that I wrote this post after yet another poor display, while other media at the time described Valencia as being at "rock bottom" with 4th coach in a year Prandelli failing to produce the goods. The table made ugly reading with us in a relegation scrap, a full 11 points off the Champs league places. Honestly, to read some of the negativity on the previous blog, you’d think nothing had changed. I was going to comment there, but there are too many to respond to individually.
Compared to last year...
  • Valencia have equalled their best ever start to a season, the team is on fire, getting great results with football that is nice to watch. Rival after rival has been smashed: 6 at Betis, 5 against Malaga, 4-0 against Sevilla. 7 wins in a row.
  • Zaza has scored more goals than Luis Suarez, Greizmann, Bale and Ronaldo combined.
  • Rodrigo who I described back then as a player who “can't finish to save his life” has scored the same number of goals as Suarez/Greizmann/Bale. Even Mina has scored more than any of those “big names” despite being a sub most of the time.
  • Soler, one of the most promising young players in European football has emerged to strengthen our midfield, while Kondogbia is now doing what Enzo Perez couldn’t. In fact the team has strengthened in almost every position and has done so without breaking the bank.
  • We are now being talked of seriously as title contenders.
And if you doubt that anything has changed, I keep an eye on most of our rivals' blogs and we're scaring them. At the start of the season Sevilla fans sniggered about us as "a club that is ill, a disaster, lipstick on a pig." Now the same commenters are saying that we "continue to look potential league winners" or that we "look the best team in the league so far....have no European football to worry about and have a great chance to pull a huge suprise and win la liga." The fear and respect factor, absent for too long, has returned.

Do I need to go on….?
_______________________
Is everything perfect with us? Not totally, but when is it ever perfect for any club? Our 2 right backs are inconsistent, the defence needs a bit of work, especially from set pieces, Soler has been a little off-form in the last month and there were a few negative headlines about the Zaza incident, though that was blown out of proportion by Madrid media keen to see us fail.


Valencia is benefitting right now from an almost perfect storm. Not only are our manager and players performing at the highest level, most of our opponents are below their best. Maybe that’s a temporary thing but right now the situation with our rivals is.....
  • Sevilla may have peaked. They don’t look like they’ve managed the change from Monchi and Sampaoli. Berizzo’s rotations are being criticised and their record signing Muriel isn’t producing the goods.
  • Atletico Madrid look stale. Greizmann is badly off form and seems to have his head elsewhere, probably on a big money transfer next summer. Maybe they’ll improve once their transfer ban ends and maybe they’ll spend the money gained from Greizmann wisely but maybe not and there is a growing feeling that Cholo Simeone may have run out of steam. An impending exit from the Champions league won’t help their finances either.
  • Real Madrid are struggling. Benzema and Bale are playing poorly and are being constantly whistled by their own fans. Ronaldo is off form and is starting to look over the hill. Still a star name, but his transfer value will drop if it goes on this way.
  • Barcelona are the only club that looks “with it” partly down to Valverde (whose departure from Bilbao weakens them, another plus for us) and partly because Messi is on another planet. Even there, there are problems ahead. Neymar has gone and his replacement has been injured and probably won’t be as good. Suarez hasn’t been producing, partly due to injury, but he hits 31 soon and his best days may be behind him. Most of all, there’s the delightful prospect, if you’re not a Barcelona fan, that Messi may leave for nothing, as he still hasn’t signed a new contract. So a player that Barcelona hoped would carry them forward or that they could at least get 400m for, could be out next season.
I still think the last 3 clubs will likely finish ahead of us at the end of this season, but even if that happens, we are favourites to finish somewhere in top 4 and return to the Champions league, a brilliant achievement when most expected us to scrape into the Europa league at best. But that’s just short term, the longer term picture looks even rosier. While we have the youngest squad of the top sides, they all face the challenge of having replace key players who are all coming to the latter part of their careers. Ronaldo, Benzema, Messi, Suarez, Iniesta, Pique, Gabi, Juanfran, FelipeLuis are all at least 30 and can’t carry their sides forever.

With the usual caveats about how it's early in the season etc, we may well be seeing the best Valencia squad since the Benitez era, so let's sit back and enjoy it and park a bit of the negativity. With that, I'll end my rant about your rants ;) with the words of Marcelino...
"Not losing any game in 38 is impossible. But let's enjoy the moment, the attitude, the points we have, the constant support that exists between everyone."

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The transfer window closes; Guedes and Pereira join

The Summer transfer window has been a scary occasion for Valencia fans for at least a decade. The club's financial problems, which started in the mid-2000s and have still resulted in the club being one of the five football clubs in the world with the most debt, have meant that Valencia has constantly had to sell off its best players, usually weakening the squad as a result. Silva, Villa, Mata, Alba, Bernat, Soldado... the list goes on. Hopes that Lim's takeover would stop this were dashed when Otamendi was sold, with last year's transfer window being especially traumatic, with the club losing Andre Gomes, Mustafi and Alcacer and the replacements being Munir, Mario Suarez and Mangala. All of them, with the possible exception of the latter, flopped.

This year looked to be going the same way. By mid-August the club had only swapped goalkeepers, replacing Alves and Ryan with Neto, with Maksimovich, who had agreed to join the club 6 months earlier, the only additions. In early August, the central defensive situation looked really scary, with Garay tipped to go and no replacements lined up.

What a difference since then. Garay stays, despite late interest from Benfica. The club added Gabriel from Arsenal for 11m with Murillo joining an loan with a compulsory buy of 12m, though the club has until 2019 to find that money. With Garay, Murillo and Gabriel as main choices, and Vezo and Jimenez as back ups, the central defence looks well sorted.

In midfield, the club added Kondogbia, a loan with a buy option of 25m with the late arrivals of Guedes and Pereira completing the picture. Both join on loan without options to buy.



All in all, unlike last year, the club largely succeeded in clearing out unwanted players and strengthening in key positions. Negredo, Alves and Enzo, all high wage earners, were sold. While we can all complain that they left for peanuts and below market value (see also Piatti), their departure did allow the club a fresh start to rejuvenate the squad. Vincius Araujo's contract was simply terminated. He joins Zaragoza. He always seemed a panic buy and there was close on zero chance of him ever being a useful squad member. Other exits were Santos, Abdennour, Nani, Bakkali, Medran and Cancelo, who all left on loan. The first two were definitely surplus to requirements. Bakkali was a fan favourite, but one who, like DePaul, never seemed to gel with the team. Cancelo had his fans, but his sale was long expected to raise funds, so there was none of the shock factor that happened last year with Alcacer's sale. Medran is one of the exits who will be missed most, but the player himself was pushing for more playing time and so, like Ryan, was shown the door.

The only remaining player that the club hoped to sell or loan but couldn't is Orellana, who stays with the club. Another negative from the window is failing to land a forward. The club was linked with Vietto, who stays with Atletico, Lucas Perez, who returned to Depor and, at the last minute, Gremio striker Luan Viera, who the Brazilian club decided not to sell in the end.

Overall, in relative terms, this is one of Valencia's best transfer windows in years. The club cleared out most of the dead wood, kept key players and strengthened in key positions like central defence and central midfield. Best of all, the transfers look sustainable. Kondogbia will cost 25m if we buy him, but that's up to us and we can evaluate the player for a season without taking a risk. None of the others will break the bank. Compare that to the Summer of 2014, when Lim's reckless spending on Mendes clients handicapped us for the next few years. Lessons do seem to have been learnt. The failure to land an extra forward is disappointing and means that we have to make do with Zaza and Rodrigo, with Mina as back up and Guedes possibly covering there. I suppose we can revisit in the winter window if that doesn't work.

Are you happy with the transfer window? Let us know in the comments section.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Negredo joins Besiktas

So, as officially confirmed, Negredo's time at Valencia has come to an end. The player joins Besiktas, with his arrival celebrated by a truly awful video. The fee is said to be around €2.5 million. So Valencia paid 28m for a player worth less than 20, then sells him for less than a tenth of that and about a third of his value. There are many bad examples of poor transfer dealing in the Lim era, but this one has to be the pits.

Negredo joined Valencia back in 2014, sitting out the early months due to an injury. When he did play he was far from the standard that Valencia wanted. He did score some important goals, including a crucial goal to book Valencia's place in the champions league group stage and a goal from the halfway line vs Rayo but all those were overshadowed by him missing sitters, such as the one in the 81st minute vs Real Madrid which would have locked up three points and overall, was nowhere near justifying even half of his fee. Nuno clearly grew to dislike the player and ostracised him and DePaul in his last season. When he did come back, experiments at playing him with Alcacer didn't work and the latter tended to be preferred. Last summer, he was high on Valencia's list of players that they wanted to sell but with no takers, VCF had to settle for a loan to Middlesbrough, with a buy option. With Boro relegated, that buy option wasn't exercised and the club was saddled with him again. While the transfer fee is pitiful, it does free up a significant financial fair play margin, indeed, at the end of last season, Negredo made up an eighth (!) of the team's FFP budget.


With him removed, the club does have space to bring in new signings, which would involve, in order, a central defender then a defensively minded central midfielder. After that, a defender who can be back up on the right and centre would be high and a left winger, with Nani proving injury prone.

Overall, I wouldn't be too harsh on Alemany and co for the Negredo transfer as it was a mess not of their making. Lim's reckless spending in the first transfer window has really screwed us up and three years later we are still suffering. The club tried last summer to get shot of the dead wood and had no takers and with 85% of the current window gone, it wasn't going to happen this one either. So the administration faced the difficult choice of soldiering into the new season with dead wood like Santos, players who Marcelino doesn't count on or selling them on the cheap to get their salary off the books. Hopefully we can now see some movement on bringing in new signings, with Murillo high on the list. If we can sign a competent central defender and central defensive midfielder, we can yet challenge for top 7.


 
 
 

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.