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

Monday, March 29, 2021

Valencia CF needs to secure our top players

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

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

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

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Can Javi Gracia turn things around?

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

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

Saturday, August 15, 2020

An open letter to Anil Murthy

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

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


========================================== 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Keys to the Next Season

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

TRANSFER ACTIVITY

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

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

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

HEALTH, FITNESS AND INJURIES

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

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

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

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

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

SQUAD UNITY

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

TACTICS

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

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

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

YOUNG PLAYERS

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

DISCIPLINE

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

WIN BACK THE FANS' TRUST

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

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

Monday, September 2, 2019

Close of the transfer window near

The close of the transfer window is imminent. Barring any late surprises, it's a transfer window that went past without any major departures to annoy the fans. Neto left after an apparent fall-out with Marcelino, but was replaced by Cillessen, who most of us regard as an upgrade. Santi Mina left and was replaced by Maxi Gomez, who the jury is still out on, as it's too early to say. Valencia also picked up several young players: Jorge Saenz, Salva Ruiz, Manu Vallejo and Jason, as well as making Cheryshev's loan permanent and bringing in Costa and Mangala on loan. Other departures were limited to unwanted players: Abdennour, Vezo and Murillo.

There are 3 last day movements.

Thierry Correia joins from Sporting Lisbon, covering Piccini's 5-month injury lay-off. As recently as yesterday, there had been talk that no one would join to cover, which seemed a high risk, with no natural right back there. The question mark will be about the price, with Valencia paying 12 million (with another 3m in variables possible) and giving him a 100 million release clause.


The club had tried to sign Hysaj, a more established player, but Napoli played hardball and ultimately, Valencia was unwilling to go to 20 million or beyond. Correia has done well with Portugal youth teams, but has very few club starts. Labelled as the "new Cancelo" time will tell whether he lives up to his promise or proves to be an ill-advised panic buy. Valencia has, of course, been weak at right back for some time and none of the recent holders (Barragan, Montoya, Vezo, Nacho Vidal, Cancelo or Piccini) did that well there. 12 million represents a significant gamble and it remains to be seen whether he can step up to the challenge of La Liga and UEFA CL.

Next are two departures, both slightly surprising. Jason joins Getafe on a season's loan. With Valencia weakened on the right by the injuries to Piccini and Soler, I would have expected him to stay.

Even more surprisingly and a bit ruthlessly, Salva Ruiz' return to Valencia proved short-lived. Just 9 weeks and a day after he returned, the club cancelled his contract and he joins Deportivo Corunya, with Valencia having a percentage of any future sale.

Those departures mean that three of the four young players who joined us in the summer have left, with only Manu Vallejo remaining. It all seems badly planned and a bit of a scattergun approach.

***Update*** Having failed to find a club for him during the transfer window, Valencia cancelled Alvaro Medran's contract. It would have expired next summer anyway so either way the club wasn't going to get any transfer fee for him.

Overall, no major departures, and a net spend of 56 million euros, though 35 of that comes from Cillesen's buy, with the Neto money going into last season's account. Despite that, I think most of our fans will be fairly frustrated by this window. We were strongly linked with Rafinha and Denis Suarez, both of whom have joined Celta. Other names like Mariano Diaz, Hysaj, Angel Correa and Otamendi caused interest, but ultimately came to nothing, though many will be relieved that Mendes players like Andre Silva or Radamel Falcao didn't join.

Rodrigo, as always, will remain a divisive figure. Many of our support were happy that he was leaving, and 60 million seemed a good price. Yet, even though the deal seemed to be done it didn't happen. There was always the question of who would replace him and worry about the effect on the team if he left so late in the transfer window, after the season start.

The biggest issue is that all of our rivals, both the big three and the fourth placed contenders, have strengthened, and therefore, by staying still, Valencia slips behind in relative terms. The mini-civil war that the club had in the summer seems to have had its effects and they're not good for Valencia. We can only hope that players like Correia, Maxi Gomez and Manu Vallejo do fulfil their promise.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Alemany goodbye?

I promised to put this post up and hoped for something a bit more substantial, but we're still stuck with rumours and gossip. I won't be around for most of next month, so won't have internet a few hours from now.

As all of you will know there are strong rumours that Alemany is on his way out. Lim basically gave him a free hand with transfers in the first two summers but now wants to be more involved. That's his prerogative as the owner and the person who, ultimately, is paying for these transfers. Alemany, feeling that this makes him redundant looks to be out.

From the rumours on Twitter and other sites it seems that a few things led to this. Alemany (and Marcelino) wanted to bring in Rafinha from Barcelona. Lim, concerned about his injury history, vetoed this. In contrast, Lim wanted to bring Otamendi back, but Alemany opposed this, feeling that even after a wage cut, Otamendi would be by far the highest earner at the club, and this would affect squad harmony. Lastly, Alemany allegedly wanted to give Marcelino a longer contract. After all, it was him who brought Marcelino in when Alexanko was arguing for Setien instead and it was Alemany who defended Marcelino when he seemed to be on the verge of being sacked in January. Lim, maybe mindful of the lack of continuity of some of Valencia's other managers, didn't want to commit to a longer contract which could lead to a large compensation payment in the event of a sacking. All this could explain why Valencia's progress in the transfer market has been painfully slow: aside from the young players already signed and the swap of goalkeepers, only Maxi Gomez has joined.

Obviously the question this raises is, if Alemany goes, who follows? Both Longoria and Marcelino were close to Alemany and may follow him in resigning. It all sounds a bit of a disaster. Just when the club finally looked to have gained some long overdue stability, is it going to collapse in internal fighting again?

Fans have been quick to draw parallels with the summer of 2015, when Salva and Rufete were forced out. Those analogies are worrying, but don't quite work. For a start, there isn't a manager at the helm closely tied to Lim for fans to focus their anger on. (Yet. Worrying rumours of Mourinho as the next manager are swirling.) Secondly, the situation with Mendes is different. Mendes is now closely associated with Wolves and the FA Premier League gives him a much better vehicle to market his prospects.

Ultimately, we just have to hope for the best in this and see how it pans out.









Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Celtic - Valencia match thread

Usually, I would put these up a few hours before the game, mostly because, on my time zone, games like these are finished after midnight on a working night, making it hard for me to do a write-up until next day. With a match thread at least you all at least have somewhere to comment.

In this case it goes up early because we have a match squad which seems bizarre to me.


Only 2 central defenders and only 2 recognised forwards. The former situation is forced on the club. Gabriel is injured and Roncaglia has a 4-game suspension, which means Garay-Diakhaby are the only central defensive pairing available. However, this does make the decision to send both Murillo and Vezo out on loan questionable. I know the players themselves were probably pushing for it, to get more game time, but that meant that we needed to get in a player who was available for Europe. Bad planning.

Mina and Gaya also had injuries. The latter's doesn't seem that serious, but the biggest absence is Rodrigo, who the coach has just decided to leave out. I totally don't understand that one at all, with Mina out and Rodrigo hitting form recently. I thought the whole point in resting Rodrigo against Sociedad was so he would be fresh for Europe? If he was going to be rested for Glasgow, why not just play him the full league game vs Sociedad and then give him the week off?

So up front we have Gameiro, who has only recently started to get in form. With him we either have Sobrino, making his debut in a key European game, which doesn't seem wise to me. Otherwise, we have Guedes or Cheryshev as the second striker. Sure, the two have played there before, but the last time was the 2018 world cup last summer with different teams. A crunch European game is not the time to experiment.

The only conclusion I can come to from this is that Marcelino has made a strategic decision to go easy in the Europa league and prioritise the league and Copa del Rey. If so, that's very disappointing. I really thought injury-hit Celtic were there for the taking and these decisions make it harder that we can progress. Not only does progress give us instant cash, it gives us European ranking points which mean better seeding, easier draws and a bigger share of cash next time we reach Champions league.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Gijon match thread / News

After yet another disappointing draw, Valencia find themselves fighting to stay in the cup, hoping to overturn a 1-2 loss at Gijon. In usual circumstances, that would be an easy task, but given the team's travails this season, all bets are off. When the draw was made it was expected that Valencia would have won by 1 or 2 goals in the first leg and been able to experiment and rest players. Instead, it's win or bust and therefore a near first team line-up should be expected.

Transfer news is that Uroš Račić has joined Tenerife of the second division on loan. His time with us has been very limited and NickVCF in the comments has rightly asked what the point is. We can bring in these young prospects, but if their time in the first team is limited to a late sub appearance in the cup before they're sold for a miserable profit at best, it seems worthless. We did identify a young talent a few seasons back. His name was Rodrigo De Paul. We sold him for a dismal 3 million and now he's being targeted by several clubs for 30-35 million. Sure, it's not a total disaster for Valencia, since we'll get at least 10% of that but in hindsight, it would have been better to keep him.

Batshuayi's exit looks imminent with Monaco remaining the likely destination, though late interest from Everton and Galatasaray may change that. Not our business really, since he's been a bust. A fourth striker seems almost certain, though with funds very limited the options are underwhelming. Chicarito was being touted as the likely possibility last week but high demands from West Ham have made that less likely. 

The name currently in vogue is Sergio Leon, who has been a back-up for Betis after decent spells elsewhere including Osasuna. Like Gameiro and Chicarito, this is one I think comes at least 3 years too late. Leon was a good player a few seasons back but I have my doubts he'd significantly improve things up front. In hindsight, we should have got 40-50m for Rodrigo last summer and spent that on Maxi Gomez of Celta. I said that last summer in the comments. However, that boat has sailed, Rodrigo's nominal value has dropped to 25-30m at best, while Gomez's has soared and there's close on zero chance that he will join us. Other options are limited. If we had the money, Borja Iglesias, another of our former youth players who we let leave on a free enjoyed good seasons with Celta B at the third level, Zaragoza last year at the second level and has made the step up with Espanyol, averaging nearly a goal every two games. But, at 25 million (release clause) for a player that has only has one good season in the top flight it would be a gamble.

EDIT: So a 3-0 victory over Sporting Gijon to lift up everyone's spirits, it was a dominant performance in the second half, which unfortunately due to work is the only half that I watched and we managed to turn that domination into goals, what a surprise.

This is what we need, this is how we should play all the time and this is how many goals we should score. I mean at one point it seemed like this would end in yet another draw and we would be out of the cup due to losing the first leg, but we scored the first goal and after that it was smooth sailing with two more goals coming along.
 


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.


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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 ?