Marcelino Bringing Big Dreams Back To The Mestalla

After a series of bad decisions that have brought the quality and reputation of the once revered club down to earth, Valencia were on their knees and needed a revival.

The appointment of Marcelino at the start of the 2017/2018 season seems to have sparked the resurgence as shown by the results and performances posted under the tutelage of the Asturian. Valencia are one of only three unbeaten teams in the Spanish top flight and their present run of nine games unbeaten matches their best ever start to a season in over 20 years. The last time the club went on a similar run was in 2003/2004, Los Che went on to win the La Liga and the UEFA Cup in fantastic fashion under Rafa Benitez.

It is still early days, but there is surely the feeling of excitement and nostalgia around the Mestalla as to how well the season might turn out to be. Standing just 5 points behind Barcelona in the La Liga and earning a comfortable win away from home in the Copa Del Rey, the club faithful can be forgiven for having even the slightest hope that this team might just be on the cusp of glory.

There have been thirteen managers at Valencia in the last five years, with names like Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Pako Ayesteran, Cesare Prandelli and on multiple occasions Voro all filling the manager’s seat at the Mestalla. None of these names have been able to create the turnaround as witnessed right now under Marcelino who has come in on the back of a good career.

Marcelino took Recreativo de Huelva from the second division to an astonishing eighth place in the primera, won promotion with Real Zaragoza even in the midst of a crisis from which they have still not fully recovered, led Racing Santander to their best ever finish in Spanish football and brought Villarreal back from the second division and to the top of the table for the first time in their history. His stint at Villarreal also included a continental run that only got thwarted in the Europa League by Liverpool in the semifinals.

His first actions as Valencia manager was to masterminde

 a ‘Purge’ at the club, letting sixteen players go in the summer that saw a massive overhaul even in administrative positions as Anil Murthy became club President. Simone Zaza was brought in from West Ham and is second on the goalscorers chart with 8 goals, only behind Lionel Messi. 20-year old Goncalo Guedes has been a revelation on loan from PSG as is Geoffrey Kondogbia who seemed to have gone into oblivion in his time at the San Siro with Internazionale.

In defence, Marcelino brought in a familiar face in Gabriel Paulista from Arsenal. The pair had a fantastic relationship both on and off the pitch in their time at Villarreal. Neto was brought in from the shadows of Buffon at Juventus and Jeison Murrilo came in from Inter Milan on a 2 year loan deal.

Only six players are remaining from when Peter Lim took over the club. Dani Parejo was on his way out of the club after successive 12th place finishes but was convinced by Marcelino to stay put and he has formed a tactful partnership with Kondogbia in the middle. Rodrigo has five goals in eight games already in October, a milestone considering the young man had never scored more than five in a season since he became a Valencia player.

Enzo Perez, Diego Alves and Alvaro Negredo were casualties of the ‘Purge’ and going by his intelligence and intensity, it is safe to say Marcelino wanted a squad that he could lead and that would follow him, creating a climate conducive to a change in culture.

The word Gabriel used for him is “pesado”: roughly, a pain, heavy, hardworking and tough going guy. It is left to be seen just how big Valencia fans should dream under Marcelino.