Albert Celades finished his first experience as Valencia coach yesterday, a journey that has lasted for almost nine months and has been a real roller coaster, both in sports and extra-soccer, which he has finally been unable to survive after be removed after poor results and lack of harmony with his staff.
The young coach arrived at Valencia in the middle of the earthquake, after the surprising and traumatic dismissal of his predecessor in office, Marcelino García Toral, just after starting the championship. His lack of experience reminded the fans of the sound previous failures of coaches of a similar profile as Pako Ayestaran or Gary Neville.
But his calm and reserved character allowed him to weather the turbulent situation upon arrival and gradually win over a team that was fully identified with the Asturian coach and who publicly and privately criticized Peter Lim’s decision.
A situation that was even more complicated with the departure of Mateo Alemany, cornered and without power of decision as general manager of the entity, after having been the architect of the club’s resurgence after a mediocre stage.
Celades had the ability to understand and allow the duel of his players. Despite the win against Barcelona in his debut (5-2), he gradually straightened the team’s progress.
The Catalan coach, whose only experience on the bench had been in the lower national teams, is a defender of the 4-3-3 tactical system, very different from the 4-4-2 shot by Marcelino on the roster. He tried to combine both drawings with different results, although defensive fragility was one of the aspects that he was never able to correct.
In his 41 games at the helm of the team he received 62 goals, a slab in LaLiga and which cost him the elimination in the knockout stages of the Champions League, where he lost to the Italian Atalanta after receiving eight goals on aggregate in the tie.
Precisely the maximum continental competition was the one that gave the coach and Valencian the most joy initially, after being able to pass as the first of a complicated group, in which they obtained two prestigious wins at home against Chelsea and Ajax in Amsterdam. However, the unexpected setback against the Italians in the round of 16 spoiled the good European campaign.
The controversial Spanish Super Cup played in Arabia was another blow, not only for falling in the semifinals against Real Madrid, but for the indolent image offered by Valencia, which was endorsed on the next day of the League in which it was thrashed in Mallorca 4-1.
Valencia were able to defeat Barcelona in their next match played at Mestalla, but it turned out to be a mirage, the team fell into a spin. He was eliminated from the Champions League and the Copa del Rey, and in the League he was only able since that January 25 to win three games, against Celta, Betis and Osasuna.
The break in the competition for the Covid-19 pandemic came at a critical moment for the team, plagued by injuries, eliminated by Atalanta and with very bad playing feelings. But far from this parenthesis allowing the team to remake both physically and emotionally, the return has been dire, since in addition to maintaining the poor dynamic of results, the locker room has turned against the coach for cases such as public criticism of Diakhaby or his confrontation with the Uruguayan Maxi Gómez.
With no connection between the squad and the coaching staff, and in a more than rarefied environment, Valencia have seen the options of playing European competition escape them, after a lousy image in their last two games against Eibar and Villarreal.
The club that announced Monday morning the Celades press conference on Tuesday, communicated the decision to remove him in the afternoon, a measure that has also led to the resignation of César Sánchez as sports director.
In this way, Celades ends his journey at the helm of Valencia, nine turbulent months, with some joys, but in which he has been unable to involve his staff in the same way that Marcelino did, thus increasing the list of technicians fired since Peter Lim took over club property, where instability on the bench has been the usual trend.