El Centrocampista

Valencia, Debt and the Nou Mestalla (Part Two)

Valencia faced the real prospect of relegation when coach Ronald Koeman was relieved of his duties at the end of April 2008.

The former Barcelona star had a torrid time at the club, and they sat perilously close to the relegation trap door.

Salvador Gonzalez Zoro was made caretaker manager, and he proved to be Valencia’s saviour, eventually steering the club to safety.

Voro was then replaced with the young and tactically astute Unai Emery who remains it the club to this day, despite the boards distinct lack of confidence in him, awarding one year contract extensions when they feel is necessary.

Following Emery’s appointment the club saw steady improvement on the pitch, a jump up to sixth in his first season was a decent return for the young coach, even more impressive when the off-field problems were taken into account.

Vicente Soriano had taken over from Soler, but despite the conviction and confidence in his promises, they were just as hollow as the ones from the man before him.

The debt was piling on and a fire sale was on its way, as a manager doing his very best was smothered by the unattainable high standards of the fans and players.

The interest payments on the Nou Mestalla where also rising at an alarming rate, added to that the wasted money on below-par players and the constant merry-go-round of managers, the figures were rocketing.

“We have reached rock bottom” Said Emery.

And he was right.

Paying for the incompetence of presidents Juan Soler and Vicente Soriano; Emery had nowhere to turn, the European Cup winners he inherited would soon be gone along with Valencia’s reputation as Spain’s third biggest club.

Then came the news that building work on the Nou Mestalla had ceased.

During the summer of 2009, current president Manuel Llorente stepped into the frame, promising little but delivering lots.

He created deals that brought in money, but even he admitted “it was a close run thing”.

In fact Valencia were very close to ending up in the Segunda Division due to their financial problems.

With a good reputation and knowledge of the club however, everyone involved, including the investors trusted him. Financial plans were put in place that, for once, valued long-term over short-term.

Valencia’s spending was low during the transfer window but somehow the club retained the services of its best players, and Emery achieved something incredible, he guided the club back into the Champions League places, finishing a comfortable third.

Despite this achievement Llorente’s austerity measures began to take form.

The World Cup of 2010 acted as the perfect shop window for Valencia who sold David Villa and David Silva for a combined €70 million.

The sales helped with the debt but a master class in player buying and selling from Emery, his board and his staff left the team with a squad still capable of challenging for the Champions League places.

Unai duly worked his magic and Los Che finished third once again, this time 11 points from the team above them, as opposed to the 15 the season before.

Despite Llorente only awarding Emery one year contracts, the two are working fantastically well together to pull Valencia well away from the brink and back to where they belong.

As Unai Emery decreases the number in points between his club and second places, Manuel Llorente decreases the amount of debt the club is burdened with.

But, even in this extraordinary situation the best the club can achieve is to return themselves to where they were before it all went wrong, third place.

To think any higher is fantasy at this stage, to close that gap they would have to pick up the ideas that were abandoned when it all went wrong, with a new stadium clearly at the top of the list.

So many dates have been put on for construction to continue, and they have unfortunately all passed, so that building work is now halted indefinitely.

So there it sits, the Nou Mestalla, a sleeping concrete giant lingering over Valencia, waiting patiently for the day when it can burst into life and turn the club back into one of the greatest teams in Europe.

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