Published on January 12th, 2017 | by Paco Polit0
Valencia: How a La Liga giant became Europe’s biggest disaster zone
A temporary coach and players looking to be anywhere but on the pitch. Life is getting worse by the day at Valencia, Spain’s biggest crisis club.
It would be fair to say that the current situation at the headquarters of La Liga club, Valencia, is far from exemplary. Actually, let’s put it in harsher words: the club is a mess right now. And, unfortunately for billionaire Peter Lim, fingers are pointing directly at the Singapore-based owner.
Because, if we carefully consider his actions in the last year, the businessman still believes that managing a football club is analogous to performing the same task in a hospital, a car company or a real estate agency. And that has given birth to a hungry monster of an institution that consistently devours players, managers, sports directors and, ultimately, will devour Lim himself. And everything comes down to a fundamental belief: a football club can’t be managed as a by-the-numbers business.
Let’s take a look at the facts. Valencia is right now in 17th position in La Liga standings, tiptoeing ungracefully with the relegation spots that are sending fans into a frenzy of desperation and nerve-wrecking impatience. Italian manager, Cesare Prandelli, resigned two weeks ago after feeling “tricked” by the management, because he believed that the player signings he needed to make the team bounce back were never going to land in his squad.
This week, it was the sports director’s turn to resign: Suso García Pitarch left unceremoniously while slamming VCF’s communications director, Anil Murthy, and marketing director, Damià Vidagany, asking fans to be “generous” and supportive of Lim, president Layhoon Chan and the Board, and reprehending the crowd for booing and criticizing the players though clearly the squad is lacking in the performance and commitment departments.
More facts: Valencia has won only 13 points in sixteen league games. The east-coast outfit are one step away from an overwhelming knock-out in the Copa del Rey after a tough 1-4 loss in the away game against Celta. They have conceded at least a goal in 45 of their last 46 games. And, after conceding 32 goals this season in La Liga, they’ve become the fourth worst defensive team.
When you put everything into the melting pot, it seems obvious that disaster waits around the corner. With no sports director, who should choose a new manager? With no manager, how are players going to perform at their best? Even some of them, as Mario Suarez implied earlier this week, are beginning to silently jump ship by refusing to play while the boat is sinking.
The Meriton Holdings answer to all of this drama came from within: the management placed first team delegate Salvador Gonzalez ‘Voro’ on the bench for the rest of the season, and youth Academy director Jose Ramón Alesanco (who has received quite a lot of backlash because of his ties with FC Barcelona and with Portuguese super-agent Jorge Mendes) will be responsible for any signings that will be made this winter transfer market.
Suso: "I resign because I can't defend something I don't believe in. I made mistakes, the biggest one maybe not leaving earlier". (+)
— Paco Polit English (@pacopolitENG) January 10, 2017
Will this be enough to avoid a trip to La Segunda next year? Fans have never been this worried for over thirty years, when the last relegation took place. In 1986, after a disastrous season, Valencia was able to bounce back and snatch a promotion spot once again with the help of hungry youngsters who came from the Academy and felt a deep connection with the club and the city.
Nowadays, though, only a handful of them are able to help both on and off the pitch: left-back Jose Luis Gayà, goalie Jaume Domenech, ‘wonderkid’ midfielder Carlos Soler… Too little, too late. The desperate fight for survival, therefore, will have to be fought by those players who are regularly called “mercenaries!” by the most passionate fans, with an inexperienced manager leading them (the fourth one in twelve months after Gary Neville, Ayestarán and Prandelli) and absolutely zero input coming from Singapore, where Peter Lim sits on the top of his glass and steel tower watching how his 2014 investment is crashing to the ground… and he doesn’t even flinch.