Blog Written by Ash Jagtiani (@JAshP96):
Valencia, six time La Liga champions, have seen better days than the ones they’re currently witnessing. The club’s continued debt woes finally ended when Peter Lim took over in 2014, acquiring more than 70 percent of the shares of the club and wiping out the debt of about €200 million. Peter Lim also took responsibility of completing the construction of the new stadium. He scratched out the old design in favor of a more intimidating, hostile stadium. Next August will mark 10 years since the construction of the new stadium began. Its still only partially completed.
The new stadium is reminiscent of a Valencia that was ambitious, and more importantly, successful. The club dominated La Liga during the first few years of the century, winning two La Liga titles, one UEFA Super Cup and reaching two Champions League finals. The club has since failed to replicate that form.
After Rafa Benitez’s exit in 2004, Juan Batista Soler became president and brought in David Villa, Ever Banega, Joaquin and a lot of other exciting young players, of whom only David Villa truly made a mark.
The club’s barren run can be put down to many factors, which include the unprecedented rise of the big two, Real Madrid and Barcelona, and in more recent years, Atletico Madrid. The club’s main problems however have been the drain of world class players from the Valencia Cantera as well as the first team, and the debt issues. The increasing issues arising due to the extensive debt as well as the deteriorating economy of the country as a whole forced the club to sell off their star players such as Raul Albiol, David Villa, Juan Mata and David Silva, all within the space of two seasons, leaving the club relying mostly on its academy.
Many Valencia fans saw the departure of Salvo and the consequent sale of the club to Peter Lim as a sale of the soul of the club. The club has never been the same after former president Amadeo Salvo left, due to tensions with Nuno.
Nuno managed to take Valencia to 4th spot in his only full season in charge. Underlying tensions with the board and a string of poor results however led him to leave the job midway through the season. And things got worse for Valencia. Lim’s close friend and co owner at Salford City Gary Neville was brought in to replace him. Many Valencia fans questioned this appointment, as Neville had no prior experience in management, and the appointment never worked. Neville managed only 3 La Liga wins during his tenure and the team was constantly jeered at home when he was in charge. Sporting Director Suso hired Pako Ayestaran, who took over from Neville and steadied the ship, with Valencia finishing 12th at the end of the season, after being close to the relegation spots for most of the time under Gary Neville.
Last season Valencia spent more than 120 million bringing in, among others, the likes of Alvaro Negredo, Andre Gomes and Joao Cancelo, of whom only Joao Cancelo remains at the club. The hole left by Otamendi’s exit last season could not be filled and this season Valencia lost Mustafi to Arsenal. Peter Lim’s interventions have made sure the club signed decent replacements, in the form of Ezequil Garay and Elaquim Mangala. Along with Mustafi, Andre Gomes, Paco Alcacer and Sofiane Fegouli also left the club.
It remains to be seen what Pako Ayestaran and Valencia can do this season. The exodus of star names, which Valencia fans have gotten accustomed to in recent years, could affect the team. The club has however brought in young players like Munir El Haddadi and Montoya from Barcelona and an experienced campaigner in Nani from Fenerbahce to bolster the squad.
On paper, Valencia have a competitive squad this season and they have a stadium that visiting teams fear. Proper application by the players and the manager can make the club, maybe not reach the dizzying heights of the early 2000s, at the very least a feared opposition in La Liga once again.