Friday, September 23, 2016

Valencia CF 2-1 Alaves Match Report

The resurrection begins now. Voro is the man. Sure the win was kind of lucky, the penalty was 50-50%, I mean it wasn't a strong case for a penalty and some referees won't give such penalty, but luck for once was on Valencia's side. Parejo stepped in to take the penalty and his shot went in the opposite direction the goalkeeper went, securing Valencia CF their first win on the season.

As I mentioned in the preview, this was a hard fought win, it wasn't going to be easy for the team and for Voro having only held 1 training session as a coach, but he did it.

For the match itself Valencia CF first goal came from an own goal by Victor, it was another lucky goal for Valencia CF, but as I said I felt like a curse has lifted off of VCF when Pako left (he did blame bad luck on all of his losses, mind you) and now luck has returned to Valecia CF, allowing the team to win.

The play was mediocre, I didn't see much that I liked, same issues, same problems, bad passes in the final third, too much space between midfield and attack, very little cohesion, so it wasn't a good playing display, but it was enough against the mediocre Alaves as well. Neither team really played better, with both teams having better spells, with Valencia CF having the best spell of the match between the 70th and 90th minute, before some alarming play in the final few minutes before the end.

As far as Deportivo Alaves goal it come from a header, Toquero was left unmarked essentially and his header was quite powerful and precise beating Diego Alves and equalizing the score.

Lets hope this is the beginning of the turnaround in what I'm willing to be great season that we are going to finish top 6.

Player Ratings:
Diego 5 - Not much to do, suspect positioning for the goal, though I doubt few goalkeepers would have done better.
Montoya 5 - Good defensively, covered his position well, rare forward moves though.
Santos 6 - Good defending, made some proper tackles, came out higher when needed and generally a good assured performance.
Mangala 5.5 - Did well, he had two particular markings that made the difference and stopped attacks towards goal, stood down for Alaves goal, though not sure if he was supposed to be covering Toquero.
Gaya 6 - A little improved performance from previous matches, was a lot more concentrated when going forward, provided some good crosses from deep and was generally a menace going forward. Okay display at the back.
Enzo 5 - Had ups and down's all game. At certain points he was great, at others not so much, Sat back deep for most of the match and broke up Alaves attacks.
Medran 5.5 - Some nice intelligent passes, always available in the midfield, but was tightly marked in the midfield and couldn't make a difference.
Parejo 6 - Woke up in the second half from the 70th up till the 90th minute, but the rest of the match he was ineffectual. Good thing that he scored from the penalty spot to give VCF the win.
Moreno 4 - Rarely visible in the first half, replaced at half time for Mina.
Munir 4.5 - Didn't see anything of notice from him, made some decent runs here and there, but that was it.
Nani 4 - Don't see why he is included on the form and play he is on, maybe he just hasn't gelled, but he offers nothing.
Mina 4 - More visible than Moreno, but failed to make a difference.
Cancelo 6 - Good offensive play, he provided several crosses and caused trouble on the right wing for Alaves.
Bakkali N/A - Fell for the penalty, so that counts for something, right? 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Valencia CF vs Deportivo Alaves Match Preview

Valencia CF vs Alaves Match Preview

Stadium: Mestalla
Date: 22.09.2016 22:00 CET 
5th matchday, La Liga 
Coaches: Voro and Mauricio Pellegrino

Valencia CF is in a world of turmoil as Pako Ayesteran has been sacked due to a series of poor results and the club is trying to find a new manager, with the first option being Marcelino, but he is supposedly forbidden from managing another La Liga club in the same season he has already managed one and even though he terminated his contract with Villarreal before the first official match of this season, supposedly the rules state that after a certain date he is coach of said team, which is absurd. I think he can win in a court of law, because that rule doesn't make sense if he hasn't lead a team in any official match, but that would take long time, time which Valencia CF doesn't have.

The Spanish league overlords are going to give VCF a hard time on this, if this was an issue with their masters FC Barcelona or Real Madrid, their owners, then it would be a non-issue, but since its Valencia CF, they will make it extremely hard to get our way. 

Either way Valencia CF current temporary coach is Voro, he's coached Valencia CF before several times, so he is no stranger to the position, in fact our results under him are actually impressive, considering the terrible times he's taken over the position. So to tell you the truth I'm expecting more from him than I would have expected under Pako. Voro also has a knack for picking just the right team and saying the right things to get them fired up for those few matches he leads them, so actually I'm optimistic about tomorrow's match.

Valencia CF opponent is Deportivo Alaves who are coached by former Valencia CF player and later coach Mauricio Pellegrino. After being sacked by Valencia CF he's had a modest coaching success and has now taken over Alaves and we'll see how he does with them, so far they have 6 points from 4 matches, so decent result for them, certainly much better than Valencia CF.

To be honest I have great feeling about Valencia CF and our chances to get top 6 spot, I know I've said its going to be a relegation battle, but now that Pako is gone I feel like a curse has been lifted off of the club, and not to say Pako was an unlucky charm(though he did blame bad luck in all of the lost matches), but in my spirit, in my gut I have a feeling this is going to be a turnaround for us. Its still only 4 matches so far, there are 34 more matches and we could even go on to lose 4-5 more, its not the end of the world, as long as we can win 16/17 matches and then its all good again.

Lets turn this around guys, lets all inject positive energy into the club, positive thinking, lets all support and cheer and pray or whatever to help the team go on to compete for top 6. We have Garay one of the best defenders in Spain, he will return from injury, we have Garay who was bad at City, but he was also really good before and thus he reached at the time a record price for a defender. Santos was also a good defender, talented and promising player before he came to Valencia CF, Gaya has been amazing for us he can reach his potential and if not we have an even better option in Lato.

I think we are going to have a turnaround and it might be tomorrow or in the coming weeks, but its coming. 

Valencia CF Squad:
Goalkeepers: Diego, Jaume
Defenders: Cancelo, Montoya, Mangala, Santos, Lato, Gaya
Midfielders: Suarez, Enzo, Parejo, Medran, Soler, Fede, Nani, Bakkali
Forwards: Santi Mina, Moreno, Munir

Technical Details Valencia CF (probable setups):
Formation: 4-3-3
Line-up: Diego; Cancelo, Santos, Mangala, Gaya; Enzo, Parejo, Medran; Mina, Moreno, Munir.
Tactics: Low defensive line, own half pressure, slow tempo pressing, crossing style passing, winged attacks, counter attacks

Match Prediction
Valencia CF 3-2 Deportivo Alaves
I expect Valencia CF to achieve its first win this season and its first win in over 7 matches since last season, but I don't expect it to be easy. I think our defense will leak again, like always, but I think we'll be more efficient up front and this would probably turn into an open game with lots of goals. I think we are going to try and play more defensively in order to prevent goals on our end, but will end up playing a more direct and open match.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Valencia CF sacks Pako

Valencia CF sacked Pako Ayesteran after just four league match in which the team lost all four games. Pako's excuse was bad luck in the first three games, on the last admitting that Valencia CF got outplayed and lost deservedly, though he still mused about better result, which wouldn't have been realistic.

Peter Lim I bet is regretting every single decision he's made, from his dealings with Mendes, buying overpriced players, to getting rid of every single Spanish staff and most of the internal management, there were a lot of people working for Valencia CF that weren't at the top, their names weren't known, but they were key to a stable Valencia CF, Peter Lim released most of them, I think two retired in the last 2 years, top management released as well, people like Ayala, Salvo, etc...

With no spirit, with no hearth the club started decaying, and since the beginning of last season the club has gotten to the bottom. Last seasons Pako's accomplishments were not being relegated, that was deemed so good that he was offered the coaching position, even though a master coach like Manuel Pellegrini was available and he personally said would prefer to return to Spain, his manager said he's love to coach Valencia CF, but Peter Lim and Suso ignored a master coach like him and went for Pako who's sole accomplishments were not getting VCF relegated. Look I'm thankful to what he's done in the past, he had a great time with Benitez, he was directly responsible for the glory days back then, but his coaching credentials were almost non existent, you don't hire such person for the job.

That is like hiring taxi driver to control a space shuttle, it just can't work. To be fair to Pako he was told sweet little lies in the beginning, he was told the team was going to be strengthened, he was told Mustafi would stay, Paco would stay, all the top talent and players would stay and the dead wood like Piatti, Negredo, Aymen, Orban, etc... would be offloaded and new better players purchased to replace them. Camacho was one of the mentioned reinforcements, Albiol one of the others, I also heard several promising names in attack that were supposed to replace Negredo, but none of that came true.

Aymen stayed and Mustafi was sold instead, Gomes was sold for pennies on the dollar, as Paul Pogba broke records with 110 million euros transfer fee, while we settled for 35 million for the second best upcoming talent in Gomes. It was Pogba, Gomes, James the top 3 talents that were being mentioned, James stayed, Pogba sold for record fee and Gomes was essentially let go for pennies on the dollar.

In the last days Paco and Mustafi left to make matters worse, Diego Alves was on the exit door, being forced out, but no proper buyer was found and he stayed. Garbage transfer window by all accounts, so Pako's fault is limited here, but he was a yes man, he only has himself to blame. He could have said no, he could have exerted public pressure on Lim not to sell, he was even considering leaving on his own in between the first and second league match, but decided that he wanted to try his luck and try and fight, and look what that got him. Leaving disgraced and sacked, though the severance package is probably going to be quite big, so reputation loss, but monetary gain,

Now the question is which coach will be his replacement, there are probably 10 options right now, a lot of good coaches, few famous ones, several Spanish coaches as well, we also have one or two former VCF players who are available as coaches, quite a few options, the question is who exactly.

Truth be told there are only few very good coaches, its not like we have an assortment of 10 top coaches, but they are likely going to cost a pretty penny, so I'm not counting on those types. We are probably going to get a Spanish speaking coach, experienced who doesn't have to have super great results, but to be overall good coach with good motivational skills.

Tell us who you'd like to see as new coach of Valencia CF?

Can Valencia CF turn things around?

Valencia CF suffered its 4th straight defeat in the league against Athletic Bilbao in what I suspected was going to be a disappointing loss and it was. Valencia CF started good, scoring a goal in less than 2 minutes and the action on goal was quite decent, nothing special and Nani's pass was deflected and thus the ball came towards Medran with his shot close to being stopped by the goalkeeper, but thankfully the ball went in.

After the 2nd minute it was all Bilbao unfortunately, it seemed like Valencia CF played one decent attack and that was their capability, they got dominated for the whole first half. I expected the team to do better with Medran on the field, he's been really good for us in preseason and the times he was introduced in the matches, but today he failed to make much of a difference. I guess benching him for Suarez, even though Medran had a great preseason and full preseason training with us and Suarez joined relatively late was Pako's genius master plan.

Suarez on the other hand has been garbage for us, I though he could come back to form, establish some of his Atletico Madrid days, but no, he's been worse than Danilo from last season, worse than Javi Fuego, he's been terrible for us. Good thing he is only on loan here, because he is worth ZERO!

Lato had an amazing preseason, but again Pako's genious master plan to return him to the B team, even though we only had Gaya as Siqueira was injured and even though Gaya looked much worse all preseason long. He doesn't choose players based on performance, he chooses them based on status.

Can Valencia CF turn things around? Absolutely not with Pako on the helm. Last year he saved us from relegation(big fucking deal) really? That is the accomplishment now that one has to achieve to be put in charge of Valencia CF? He's shows he's clueless tactically, strategically and selection wise from the start of preseason all the way until the last match. We play the same way, the same style, the same tactics, the same team, the same random crap against all teams! Where are the tactics in that? We have no player to player cover, we have no zoning of specific position against certain teams, we have no higher or lower defense, we play the same exact random crap every single game.

We always have the same defensive position, which is medium, we always attack with two full backs and there is never cover in defense when we attack. We also have no ideas and we keep loosing the ball in the final third of the opposition field. Rarely do we have accurate passing in the opponents third.

There is no way for us to win without any tactics and if we suck so much in the defense, then play appropriately, park the bus in front of goal and try and score through counter attacks, don't try and play a game you can't play, that you don't have the players to. We concede too much goals? Park the bus, venture out on counters and just stay compact, at least this way we might actually get a draw rather than a full blown loss.

I just don't see us doing good if we don't hire proven and experienced coach. Why do we keep on hiring unproven coaches? Are we a coach factory now? Get an experienced coach, get someone who's coached for a long time, someone with a proven track record, someone who understands tactics, someone with the knack for recognising talent and field the best team, rather than the team that is the usual.

My team would literally be:
Cancelo, Garay, Santos, Lato
Soler        Parejo        Medran
        Moreno  Valderrama

The players that most impressed me in preseason were 1. Lata, Valderrama, Soler. Play them! These are great players, huge potential, don't waste them, don't waste their talent, get them to the first team and let them play, give them a chance, I guarantee they will do better than the other players.

In fact an alternative team may look like this:
Cancelo, Garay, Santos, Lato
Soler        Enzo     Valderrama
         Moreno   Bakkali

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Athletic Bilbao vs Valencia CF Match Preview

Athletic Bilbao vs Valencia CF Match Preview

Stadium: San Mames
Date: 18.09.2016 16:15 CET 
4th matchday, La Liga 
Coaches: Ernesto Valverde and Pako Ayestaran

Valencia CF suffered its 3rd straight loss last week at the hands of Real Betis in what was supposed to be the team's turnaround moment, playing at the Mestalla, some mental boost due to the arrivals of Garay and Mangala and just lessons learned from the previous matches. 

That wasn't to be the case though, as Valencia CF lost control of the match and went down 2-0, in fact it took being 2-0 down and a player less for Valencia CF to actually start playing properly, equalising the result at 2-2 and gaining a valuable point, but the team kept on pressing and with a player down and full out attack, Real Betis got a quick counter attack and scored a third goal to finish off the game and leave Valencia CF with zero points from 3 matches.
What were supposed to be easy opening matched all ended up as terrible losses, though Valencia CF still has a chance as we have relatively "weaker" opponents for about 6 fixtures, with Athletic Bilbao being the toughest one of the opening 6 fixtures.

Valencia CF will be playing at San Mames and against a historically tricky opponent for Valencia CF, especially in the past several years where Bilbao have been quite good, though this season and the last weren't their great, but they do have an established team play and can bring the fight to any club in La Liga and beyond.

Valencia CF has some terrible news coming into this match as Garay has been injured in training and will be out for 2 to 3 weeks, which means our leaky defense will have to rely on the error prone Mangala who's also new to Valencia CF and Spanish football and Santos who hasn't been consistent and can be a liability, though not as bad as Aymen who's also out injured, which is a good thing. 

Valencia's management has had two meetings with Pako and even though officially his job is safe and talk was about different things and show of support, experts and inside sources are stating the obvious, which is that Pako's job is already on the line, with another loss at Athletic Bilbao could possibly spell his end. If not a loss here, then certainly another loss or even a draw in the next game and he will 100% be out.

So he is under pressure to deliver here, he must win, a draw would just increase his stay for one game, but even a loss might not be enough to sack him immediately, but wait for another match, so having just a draw would just prolong the uncertainty to the next match and the next, etc... He needs to win and the team also must play good, which I think might be slightly more likely now with Medran starting, I think Pako has made huge starting eleven choices by not featuring Medran and having Nani in the squad so soon with barely any preseason training with the team, he hasn't had time to gel with the team.

Whatever team Pako decided to field, it better win for his own sake. Sure you could say its not really his fault, the summer transfer window was hellish for Valencia CF, tons of disappointments, no appropriate replacements, late dealings in the market, just the huge uncertainty, it created a lot of issues, but as a coach he is still going to take most of the blame and realistically that is the only thing Valencia CF can change. Peter Lim is not going to go away, not unless the team gets relegated, then I think he will sell the team, or sell off the assets as much as he can and leave, the players are those who they are, nothing can be done till winter and even then we will still be limited by fair play rules and the clubs's economy.

Valencia CF Squad:
Goalkeepers: Diego, Jaume
Defenders: Cancelo, Montoya, Mangala, Santos, Siqueira, Gaya
Midfielders: Suarez, Parejo, Medran, Soler, Fede, Nani, Bakkali
Forwards: Santi Mina, Moreno, Munir

Technical Details Valencia CF (probable setups):
Formation: 4-3-3
Line-up: Diego; Montoya, Santos, Mangala, Gaya; Suarez, Parejo, Medran; Nani, Moreno, Mina.
Tactics: High defensive line, all round pressure, high tempo pressing, mixed passing, winged attacks

Result Prediction:
Athletic Bilbao 2-1 Valencia CF
I'm not feeling it against Bilbao, they are a strong, compact team that has been playing together for several years the same core team with the same coach, they play at their home stadium, they have a good history against Valencia CF and this version of VCF is weak, battered, string together, at the lowest point and with probably our best player Garay injured there is little to no hope that we'll get a result here. I'm expecting another loss here, I do think we will probably score as well, but its just going to be a consolation goal and nothing more.

After this loss it will be interesting to see if Pako loses his job and if so, who would replace him?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Garay injured, Jaume renews

There's yet more bad news for Valencia (is there any other kind these days?) Ezequiel Garay has suffered an injury in training and will be out for 2 or 3 weeks. It couldn't come at a worse time, with Valencia facing a crucial set of 3 games in 8 days away to Bilbao, at home to Alaves and away to Leganes. Depending on his recovery time, he may also miss the game at home to Atletico Madrid on 2 October.

On a more positive note, Jaume Domenech has signed a new contract, committing to the club until 30 June 2022.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Valencia 2-3 Real Betis

It's almost as hard to do these write-ups as it is to watch the games. Valencia's poor start continues, with a dismal defeat to a weak Betis side torpedoing any optimism generated by the signings of Mangala and Garay.

Valencia started weakly and already looked under pressure in the first ten minutes, almost conceding in the first minute and again, the recalled Alves had to come to the rescue in the 6th after Suarez gave the ball away exposing the defence. This pattern would repeat throughout, with the defence constantly exposed by sloppy play in the midfield. Valencia did look better for most of the first half, but were creating very little and resorting to shooting from outside the area, shots which were either off target or did little to trouble the goalkeeper.

As we've seen so many times, with Valencia unable to score, the other team scents blood, grows in confidence and sure enough, a counter from Betis broke through and with Garay and Mangala outnumbered by 3 attackers and Cancelo hopelessly out of position, Betis scored.

Things went from bad to worse, with Gaya, whose crossing had continued to be ineffective, going off injured before half time.

Suarez had been so bad that he was replaced at half time by Medran, but the new midfield set up hadn't had time to gel when Enzo, who had been mostly invisible and had already deservedly been booked, lunged in with studs high on a Betis player and got a straight red card. We've been done over by referees in the past, but couldn't complain at all on this occasion. Shortly after, the defence again ended up outnumbered, letting in Betis for an easy goal.

It was only after Mina, who had faded after a decent early period, was substituted for Munir that Valencia finally showed signs of life. Munir hit the woodwork before a nice combo between Nani and Parejo put Rodrigo in for a decent goal. Suddenly Valencia looked dominant, Betis looked tired and from a corner, the Betis keeper could only parry a Munir header into the path of Garay for a tap in. Could Valencia really get the 3 points? This was answered again in injury time when the midfield and Cancelo again fell asleep, allowing Betis to tap in the winner at the death. Given the lack of clear chances Valencia created, the midfield constantly giving the ball away and failing to shield the defence and the right back constantly failing to track back, we can't complain about bad luck when this happens all the time. Mediocre. If we can't beat Betis at home, who can we beat? At times, I almost expect to see Koeman or Neville on the touchline.

Just a few records to get out of the way before I go into deciding who was the worst of a bad bunch. 6 defeats in a row equals our record. 4 home defeats in a row in the previously impregnable Mestalla: another record. Losing to Betis at home for the first time since 1986 and conceding in 30 of the last 31 games. Of managers who have managed us for at least 10 games, only 2 have a lower win percentage than Pako: Hector Nunez and Miljan Miljanic. Yep, even Koeman, Pellegrino, Djukic and Neville have done better! In the case of Miljanic, VCF ended the season only escaping relegation on goal difference. Unless performances vastly improve, this season is likely to be similar.

Player ratings
Alves 5 - was mostly ok, but should probably have done better for the second
Gaya 3 - what happened to the Gaya from 2014/15? This version is not good defensively, crosses wastefully and keeps getting injured. Real Madrid are probably ecstatic they didn't buy him.
Mangala 4.5 - reasonably decent debut but had one "Aymen" moment in the first half which could have cost us.
Garay 5.5 - decent debut, looked solid and the goal is a bonus, but can't do the job of three players.
Cancelo 1.5 - had one or two moments on the wing, but as a defender was awful. Needs to be benched or converted to full time winger.
Suarez 1.5 - awful game, kept giving the ball away and failed to cover the defence. Makes paying 15m for Danilo sound like a smart move. Has it come to this?
Parejo 4 - nice work to set up Rodrigo for the goal, but his set pieces were poor and passing inconsistent.
Enzo 1 - after a few games when he started to look better, he was back to his old self. Invisible in the first period and then flying in with rash tackles galore.
Mina 4.5 - had a good period in the first half, but really faded after half time.
Rodrigo 5 - some signs of life and did his trademark dribbling, but it never amounted to much. Nice finish for the goal.
Nani 4.5 - had a couple of good moments, but sulked around in the second half, got booked and if he carries on that way, I can see reds coming eventually. Has been a letdown so far in his games.

Montoya 2.5 - another case where, when you start to miss Barragan, you shake your head. Did little to justify his presence in the team.
Medran 4.5 - an improvement on Suarez, but lacked the quality of previous games and covering the defence isn't his strong point.
Munir 6 - why wasn't he on from the start? Made a clear case for a starting place in the team, who were improved by his presence.

Pako 2 - could soon be yet another name on our managerial merry-go-round if it continues like this. While the team has been weakened, he seems out of ideas to improve things, with a predictable 4-3-3 every game. Questionable team selection as Munir and Medran probably should have started, though Montoya and Cancelo are both so dodgy at right back there's little he can do there.

Relegation here we come!

All that optimism from the previous week, after the arrival of Garay and Mangala, gone! As reality sinks in more and more, I knew, I said it time and time again, I said it was going to be a relegation battle, but people couldn't wrap their minds around it.

Well I'm objective and level headed like that, what seems to be radical hate spewing coming from me is actually a level headed objective analysis, albeit with very angry tone, but it is still objective and based on deep understanding and analysis.

I think right now no one can deny that Valencia CF are in a position to fight to avoid relegation. I held some small hope as well, I got tricked a little bit with the arrival of Garay and Mangala, but reality has sunk in, Valencia CF will be fighting to avoid relegation this season and that is the hardcore objective truth!

I'm not happy saying it, I'm not enjoying being right all the time, especially when its bad for the team, but I have to be objective as I've always been for the past 6 years writing for this blog and point out the hard truths, no matter if people get angry at me personally or not.

I'm just not even seeing the good play that others are magically seeing, yes we played good vs Las Palmas, but its against a newer La Liga team, we still loose 4-2, what happens when we don't play good? The result is we lose by 2-0 or more. I don't see with the way we are playing how this team can achieve anything better than trying to avoid relegation.

I called and called for Peter the scourge Lim to bring in Pellegrini when he was available, I spoke against releasing Nuno knowing a new coach won't improve our situation, I knew Nuno wasn't at fault, I knew Nuno wasn't to blame for the Mendez transfers, he was a simple coach, no control over the purse or market. At best he had small input, but fans blamed him instead of Peter Lim, instead of ousting Lim, they ousted Nuno and since then we've been going down hill.

At this point I don't know if anything can bring in hope, the only solution is for VCF to actually start winning and winning consistently and even then its going to be tricky to believe in this team.

People want me to write match reviews, editorials, keep up to date with news, I want to too, but I can't, I haven't got the will to do it when this team frustrates me. Not just the results, it frustrates me how they play, they play like garbage. I can't do it.