A sleeping giant awakes

Marcelino has led the Valencia revival.
Marcelino has led the Valencia revival. / EFE
  • a look at la liga

  • Valencia had to wait for their man but now he has kickstarted their revival

Marcelino is the coach who left his last job for perceived apathy yet took his celebrations to such a ridiculous level this week that he needed medical treatment.

His body clearly wasn't quite as conditioned as his mind after an enforced break and he pulled a hamstring muscle in the coaching zone while rejoicing the Valencia victory over Real Sociedad.

What a contrast to his demeanour in his final game in charge of Villarreal where he was criticised for showing no emotion and selecting a weakened team. In his defence, he was facing the prospect of relegating Sporting Gijón, his hometown club.

In the backlash, he fell out with the club's board and was sacked on the eve of the following season. Valencia courted him but a quirk of Spanish football meant that he couldn't coach in La Liga for a whole campaign.

After a long wait he was finally appointed as soon as the season concluded and his impact has been instant. Valencia Club de Fútbol has awoken from a three-season siesta and have got their identity back.

In Marcelino they have a time-served coach whose experience means that he arrived as a man with a plan rather than improvising in the job.

He's streamlined the squad and gone back to the basics of starting with a mean defence and building from there. It's simple; he places players in positions where they excel rather than wild experimentation. It has certainly worked as Valencia have made an unbeaten start to the season and sit in the top four.

Watching them grind out a win in San Sebastián last weekend took us back to the glory days when the club was renowned for an organised defence and ability to counter attack at breakneck pace. A date with Marcelino's men isn't going to be pleasant this season.

It has taken the club five years to recover from parting with Unai Emery and losing their way. Ironically his crime was finishing third for three years in a row. In that time seven different men have squirmed in the hot seat but the crisis has worsened with each appointment.

Ernesto Valverde may be good enough to manage Barcelona but he lasted just one season at the Mestalla. Djukic, Pizzi and Nuno came and left. Gary Neville was thrown in at the deep end and gasped for air. Pako Ayestarán couldn't handle the politics of dealing with so many players brought in by an intermediary friend of the owner.

So Marcelino arrived. His plan has been implemented immediately. He can associate with those who went immediately before him because he also has ineffective spells at Zaragoza and Sevilla but honed his talents at Villarreal. A few miles from Valencia, he led the provincial team to the Champions League and a Europa League semifinal.

After years of the Valencia manager being hamstrung, they have one who is pulling his hamstrings in delight.