surinenglish

A LOOK AT LA LIGA

A senseless sacking

Celades, during his presentation on Wednesday.
Celades, during his presentation on Wednesday. / IRENE MARSILLA
  • Marcelino was the perfect fit for Valencia; now a complete rookie takes his place

As far as making managerial decisions go, replacing Marcelino with a rookie manager makes about as much sense as bringing in Gary Neville for Nuno Espirito Santo.

This is all part of the madness of the Mestalla and the whim of Peter Lim, a billionaire owner who clearly understands the business world but hasn't quite grasped the world of football.

Marcelino was exactly what Valencia needed. It was a dysfunctional club, pulled apart by politics, broken promises, an owner on a mission, the influence of a certain agent and a history of awful mistimed decisions.

They sacked Ronald Koeman shortly after winning their last trophy and replaced Unai Emery because they didn't feel that two successive third-placed finishes were good enough. Years of discontent followed.

When Marcelino took over in 2017, he followed Cesare Prandelli who left after three months, Pako Ayestarán who stretched to twelve games and Voro who acted as caretaker on three occasions. There was, of course, the disastrous appointment of Neville, the business partner of Lim. Neville had no management experience and didn't speak the language but felt compelled to say 'yes' when asked.

The time-served Marcelino was initially allowed to manage and Lim retreated to his empire in Singapore. The dividend was a first trophy in eleven years and qualification to the Champions League for a second successive year. The ship was cruising.

You'd have thought that a summer summons to Singapore was to reward him for a job exceptionally well done. In fact it was to instigate a conflict that would never be peacefully settled. Lim wanted to sell the star striker and Marcelino didn't. The manager wanted to strengthen the squad by recruiting Rafinha; the owner refused to sanction the signing.

The relationship continued but any love that did exist had dissipated. Love was on the rocks and the players, caught in the middle, made it clear that they were on the side of the manager. This clearly infuriated the man who called the shots.

In Lim's mind, the international break was the perfect time to make a clean break and Marcelino was dismissed. It makes sense to nobody other than his acolytes.

The replacement is even more bizarre. Albert Celades has similar credentials to Neville; he'd acted as assistant to Julen Lopetegui for the national team and briefly at Real Madrid. Like Ayestarán, he's never managed a major club despite a reputation as a promising coach. The factor in all three men is that they were all going to say 'yes'.

As the players reconvene, they have a tough month ahead. First, it's Barcelona, the giants they beat in the Copa del Rey final last season and then it's on to Chelsea. Neither club would have relished a game against the tight-knit Valencia unit until the self-imposed issues sparked the unravelling.

Barça coach Ernesto Valverde must feel that his problems are simple in comparison and Frank Lampard will share a touchline with a manager who has less experience than him.

It's all very illogical.