surinenglish

A taxing inheritance

What a good idea to have a mid-season rest; we all come back refreshed, replenished and ready for the second half of the season. Well, almost all of us!

Valencia and Malaga used the break to make a break and others may soon follow.

Valencia remains the gloomiest tale in La Liga. They could be heading out of the top league as there appears to be fundamental flaws in the running of the club.

The eternal caretaker manager Voro González has been given the chance to run the show after four brief cameos. He stood in between Ronald Koeman and Unai Emery, was a stop-gap between Nuno and Gary Neville and then held the fort between Pako Ayestarán and Cesare Prandelli.

There are some impressive names who have tried and failed at the Mestalla. Remember the days when Unai Emery was dismissed after finishing third in successive seasons? Gary Neville is looking a better manager with every further appointment they make!

Voro has to find a way to shape a bunch of well-paid and expensive signings, mainly from one particular agent, into a team that can fight against relegation. They have a collection of players who've done it elsewhere, a solid fan base and a rich owner but it is all fragmented. Think Newcastle or Manchester City who had to dip down a division to recuperate. There is of course a danger that their situation could resemble Leeds United - there are many similarities.

In contrast, Malaga may have changed a manager but there does appear to be a master plan.

After five games without a win, Juande Ramos had lost the backing of the fans but unlike most clubs, the new manager doesn't inherit a mess. By promoting ex-player Marcelo Romero from the technical staff, they have appointed someone who understands the incredible potential at La Rosaleda.

Malaga could have the strongest under-23 team in Europe; last summer's signings Jony and Keko are both 25, as is Recio.

There are twelve players 23 or under: Mikel Villanueva (23), Michael Santos (23), Juanpi (22), Federico Ricca (22), Sandro Ramírez (21), Diego Llorente (23), Pablo Fornals (20), Javi Ontiveros (19) and Kuki Zalazar (18).

During the break, Malaga have also brought in Adalberto Peñaranda (19) and Jack Harper (20), though the latter will slot straight into the youth set-up.

Peñaranda caught the eye in his spell at Granada and the young Venezuelan has the potential to be a top class striker if he can find the right club. He didn't get much chance to express himself on loan at Udinese and I understand that he has work permit issues in the UK with his parent club Watford. If he starts scoring for Malaga then he should have a chance to cut through the red tape.

There are no such problems for Harper. He may be a Scotland youth international but he is returning home to the Costa del Sol where he was born after spells at the Real Madrid academy and Brighton.

There couldn't be a greater contrast between Malaga and Valencia and what their new coaches have walked into.