By Rodney Ballantine
There have been a few teams over the years, that have been either near to bankruptcy, or have gone into bankruptcy, and therefore have had to sell on there star players, so as to recuperate some of the money lost, and to keep the club afloat. Not many have been able to deal with this problem; Leeds United from England comes to mind. Having had to sell their star players, and the majority of the team, that reached the Champions league semi- final in the 2000 – 2001 season, against Valencia, 3 – 0 on aggregate, they proceeded to hurtle down two divisions in successive seasons. The redevelopment stage is difficult but by no means impossible. Which brings me along nicely to what I have been discussing before?
Valencia have had to do in the last two seasons what Leeds did back then, having had to sell players that were equally if not more important to them in the past few years. Any team which would have to sell players such as David Villa, David Silva, Carlos Marchena López, Raul Albiol, Fernando Morientes and Ivan Helguera, players who have played important roles not just at Valencia but also with the Spanish National Team, which has been so successful over the years, winning the World Cup and European Championship, would no doubt inevitably struggle, add to this as well, that work on their new stadium, a 75,000-seater, called Nou Mestalla, has been stopped, then, certainly the odds are stacked against them and having to do it under very tight financial constraints doesn’t by no means doesn’t help either.
As is always inevitable, and as teams evolve, for many different reasons, new players have to replace those ones that have been shipped out, so the task fell on the manager to find those, that were capable of filling these big boots. Unai Emery was the man asked to take charge of this and has proved a more than useful tactician in his first season with the club, guiding them to a sixth place finish in La Liga, quarter finals of the Copa del Rey and round 16º of the UEFA cup, this followed the next season, by the club finishing third and subsequent Champions League qualification, something of which is of the upmost importance for a financially struggling club.
The acquisition of Emery has been a shrewd move from the board of Valencia, who looked upon a record of having coached only 2 teams in the past for a period of four years, and handed him the reigns in trying to improve the image of the club again after a few years in the doldrums. Their gamble has paid of, with Valencia playing some of the prettiest attacking football in years, and one of the best teams to watch in La Liga and looking like a throwback to the team of the 1999 – 2004 era, that were Champion’s League runners up two years in a row, and that won the league championship twice along with the UEFA cup (now called the Europa League). He has managed to install the same mentality that was shown in these successful years by making Valencia a hard team to beat as well as playing football that is very easy on the eye.
This season the team has again demonstrated that it is continuing to improve, and has most importantly filled the gaps that were left by those that moved on in the summer. Those that have been brought in include Mehmet Topal, a Turkish defensive midfield player brought in from Galatasaray, after a successful Euro 2008, Ricardo Costa, a Portuguese Defender, bought form Wolsburg, Soldado a 25 years old, Spanish player who played for Getafe for two prolific seasons, as well as being a Real Madrid player in the past, Alberto Costa, a technical, penalty – taking, free kick taking Argentine and Aduriz, signed from Mallorca, whose early season form lead him to be called up for Spain for the first time at the age of 29.
These players have been able, to the surprise of many a football expert, to play together like a team that has done so for many years, and apart from displaying good football, get good results as well, with the team also not dropping out of the top five all season, and being above the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid for the first six weeks of the season. They have been able to maintain their form, and currently sit in forth position in the league, six points ahead of Bilbao in the race for the Champions League positions. They also demonstrated great matureness as a team, qualifying for the second round of the Champions League, by finishing second in a strong group that included Manchester United, Glasgow Rangers and Bursapor from Turkey, this in turn has given them a game against Schalke 04 in the next round and a great chance to progress to the quarter finals of Europe’s premier competition and also reached the quarter finals of the Copa del Rey (Spanish Cup).
To continue the good run they are on in this moment and to keep the momentum going for this season, with a Champions League position being the optimum prize (more for the financial stakes), they seem to have signed a rather interesting acquisition that will no doubt give them more of an edge in the attacking area and improve this element of their team that has already been very functioning so well this season.
The signing of Jonas Goncalves Oliviera, who was top scorer in the 2009 Serie A Brazilian Championship with Gremio, for what looks like a snatch at 1.25 million euros, especially for a team like Valencia that doesn’t have money to spend in abundance, seems like a good bit of business and one which will no doubt help the team continue to lift themselves out of the doldrums and back among the elite. Hopefully with signings like this, and the extra money that will come from a Champions League place, the team will be better both on and of the pitch, putting some money in the bank and moving into their new stadium, and rightfully taking their place back among Spain’s and Europe’s elite.