What's the story at Valencia?

What's the story at Valencia?


Gennaro Gattuso has a seemingly impossible task on his hands. Will he even make it to the start of the season when the club is so caught up in politics?

Rob Palmer

Friday, 10 June 2022, 10:10

Truthfully, what occurred on the pitch at Valencia Football Club last season could never compare to the drama and entertainment off it.

It's a circus. On the final day of the campaign there were more fans protesting outside the Mestalla Stadium than there were inside cheering on the team.

'Lim go home' was the demand from the suffering supporters. Peter Lim, the billionaire owner was effectively working from home in Singapore. A few days later he invited Gennaro Gattuso for a job interview at his Southeast Asia headquarters even though José Bordalás was still in his post.

Bordalás, who took Valencia to the Copa del Rey final, was eventually dismissed and Gattuso was appointed this week.

Please don't trust my counting, but I make it fourteen changes of management since Lim took over the club in 2014.

Gattuso's greatest qualification appears to be the fact that he's a client of the super-agent Jorge Mendes who is central to many deals and a business partner of the owner.

One of Gattuso's first requirements is to sanction the sale of the club's young star Carlos Soler. It's reported that Mendes will be overseeing a potential deal with FC Barcelona.

Soler was at the centre of the recent controversy when the club president, Anil Murthy, was alleged, in a leaked recording, to have said he'd ruin Soler's reputation if he left. The club, after some consideration, released a statement where they said: "...personal opinions of Anil Murthy are not the views of Valencia CF. Valencia CF disassociated itself from said opinions."

Murthy has gone, the coach has gone, Soler is likely to follow with a few more stars looking for new clubs.

Ferrán Torres was the last star to be sold, Soler appears to be next and it's unlikely that fellow talent Gonçalo Guedes will stick around. He's Portuguese and his agent is Mr. Mendes. Very few assets remain.

Gattuso is also a client of Mendes, as was Nuno Espiríto Santo. Previously, Gary Neville, the business partner of Lim at Salford City in England was also appointed. The jobs for the boys approach doesn't seem to work.

The most successful of Lim's coaches was Marcelino. He managed two top four finishes and won the Copa del Rey in 2014. That wasn't enough to keep him in his role and he was disposed of.

The fans are desperate. What do they do? Can they abandon their club and allow it to rot? Do they turn up at matches and try to block out the politics?

Just over a decade ago, there were ambitious plans to construct a new stadium and build upon the perennial status as a third or fourth placed team. Now the stadium idea is long gone and the club hung onto ninth place last season.

The fans are left behind, powerless to do anything as a once powerful La Liga club appears to self-destruct.

Gattuso has an impossible job, even if he manages to hang onto it until the season starts.




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