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Trouble is afoot in Valencia and has been since the start of the season. Despite the club qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League and lying in twelfth position in the Primera Division their manager Mauricio Pellegrino was sacked last Saturday.
Having finished in third place for the last three seasons the club and their wonderful supporters have expectations that have seemingly not been met in the opening months of the season. Following a very tricky start to their domestic season – which saw them travel to both the Bernabeu and the Camp Nou in the opening three weeks of the campaign – it was thought that they had turned a corner but some heavy defeats in recent games brought about Pellegrino’s downfall.
The heavy loss inflicted by Malaga and then conceding five to Sociedad at the weekend was the final straw for the supporters and in turn the President. Speaking after his sacking the former Valencia manager stated: ‘I consider it unjust and I do not agree with it. I believe it is a product of anger and above all a fear of the situation, but this is football and this is what happens.’
It appears from the outside to have been somewhat hasty when you also consider that they have qualified through their Champions League group with a game to spare. Playing in Europe has been a respite for the club this season where they have achieved some wonderful results and played some impressive football.
The reality is that Valencia are a club who have consistently had to sell their best players in order to appease their appalling financial status. In the last few years the club have sold Juan Mata, David Silva and David Villa simply to help balance the books which has stagnated their growth. It has been an achievement in itself to finish behind Barcelona and Real Madrid for three years in a row but the negative aspect of this success is that it builds false confidence and increases expectation.
Whilst Los Che’s form in the league has been far from inspiring it must be remembered that the season is a mere 14 games in. There is an awful lot of football to be played before May and with the quality at their disposal the season was far from lost. What the new manager, Ernesto Valverde, has to do now is get the players onside and ensure that performance levels pick into the New Year. The club remain only seven points behind Real Betis in fourth place and a consistent run would put them back in contention.
There are very few clubs who can compete with the massive teams in Europe without the limitless resources at their rival’s disposal. In a sense Valencia have possibly over achieved in recent times considering their financial plight but the temporary dip in form has cost the manager his job. Expectation can be a fickle business and in football everyone wants success instantly. Pellegrino has paid the price for the perceived short comings in performance when time was all he needed.
Unfortunately for the Argentine he was not allowed any more which sees Valencia’s struggle continue to rumble on.
Written by Andy Hunter
Follow him on Twitter @hunter67980
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