Valencia are one of the biggest and most famous clubs in Spain. So what has gone wrong and what can new manager Cesar Prandelli do about it?
Cesar Prandelli’s start at Valencia CF, at first glance, seems dreadful. 1 win and 2 losses in 4 games in conjunction with the team dangling at 15th in the league table doesn’t make for pleasant reading. With much expected from the manager, since Prandelli is the first appointment in recent times to have any prior coaching experience, the results seem as erratic as ever. But does that mean nothing has changed?
Valencia started the season with a tumultuous transfer window with Pako Ayestarán at the helm, as 18 players were offloaded. The club started the season with 4 straight losses as the replacements struggled to gel and the 2 -1 defeat to Athletic Bilbao proved to be the last straw for Ayestarán. Prandelli’s feat of delivering Italy to the final Euro 2012 had not been forgotten by Peter Lim, Valencia’s billionaire owner. On the back of the disastrous 2010 World Cup, where Italy finished bottom of an easy group, Prandelli came in to a similar situation he finds himself in right now.
From watching Valencia it is clear what is wrong with the team: everything! The squad has a disorganised defence and an unfocused attack with no leader or voice to give them any steel or spine. The parallels to 2010 Italy do not stop there, with captain Fabio Cannavaro retiring in just the same way as influential Valencia defender Shkrodran Mustafi left to join Arsenal. Mustafi had taken up many of those roles previously mentioned , especially with regards to defensive organization and steely leadership, and the burden has now fallen to Enzo Pérez (captain) and Dani Parejo. Both have struggled to adapt.
If we observe Valencia’s recent results we can see that Prandelli has managed to infuse some battling spirit into the team. The game against Barcelona has characterized some of this and many will consider them very unlucky to not get a point with only Lionel Messi’s 94’ minute penalty denying them. We have seen that the gap in skill can be compensated for tactical nous and hard work by Alavés and Eibar and this philosophy heavily resonates in Prandelli’s coaching. Valencia certainly don’t lack skill; players like Luis Nani, Jose Gaya and Diego Alves are examples of this and some organization could make them a force to reckon. Valencia has fixtures against bottom of the league Granada and also Leganes coming up, games where they can target wins to start turning their season around. If they can build a platform and Prandelli can forge a backbone in the team, it will be very interesting to see what they can achieve.
Spanish Football Writer