Monday, January 14, 2008

The Poor Bastards Probably Want Rafa Back

Crisis? You want to talk about a club in crisis? I'll see Lingering Bursitis' Newcastle United and raise you Valencia C.F.

In the first half of the decade we call The Naughts, Valencia was Spain's other team, winning La Liga twice, reaching the Champions League final twice, and winning the UEFA Cup once. As recently as last year in the Champions League, they knocked out an Inter side that was unstoppable in Serie A (and treated us to the most hilarious fight, ever).

It's all gone to shit since then. Valencia finds itself in 7th place in the Primera Liga table after this weekend's loss to Atletico Madrid. Which doesn't so bad until you look closer and see they're 9 points behind Espanyol for the last Champions League place, while only 7 points separate them from relegation zone. And it's not exactly looking up, considering their last league win came eight matches ago, in November.

With Villareal, Atletico and Espanyol all enjoying resurgence, Valencia isn't even second tier any more. They're just part of a vast middle class that could be relegated just as easily as they could qualify for Europe. And for a club that boasts World Cup veterans like Joaquin, David Villa and Fernando Morientes, mid-table mediocrity isn't enough return on investment.

Happier times has a nice rundown on the State of Mestalla, so I'll just give you the bullet points - it's not a pretty picture, and we're not talking about new signee Ever Banega playing with his Ashley Young on webcam.:
  • During the seven-match league winless streak, Valencia got hammered at home by Athletic Bilbao, lost 3-0 to Barcelona, and drew with cellar dwellers Osasuna and Levante (their crosstown rival), and went six matches without scoring a goal in all competitions.
  • Finished last in its Champions League group, missing out on the consolation UEFA Cup place.
  • Ronald Koeman, who not coincidentally became manager at the start of the freefall in November, endeared himself to the fans by declaring three long-serving veterans surplus to requirement.
  • Manuel Fernandes spending a night in jail didn't help matters much either.
  • 1 comment:

    The Fan's Attic said...

    heh, says "Toot" on Valencia's jersey in the first picture.

    yes, i am 11.