Sad Albelda lashes Valencia bosses
Midfielder says coach Koeman too new at club to discard him and team mates.
21 December 2007
MADRID - Valencia's two most senior soccer players, David Albelda and Santiago Cañizares, yesterday spoke to the press for the first time after learning from coach Ronald Koeman that they were no longer wanted by the club and that they should make other plans.
The 30-year-old midfielder, whose entire professional career has been devoted to Valencia, admitted he felt "broken up" over the decision. "This is not what I expected after everything I have experienced here," a tearful Albelda said, pointing to Valencia president Juan Soler as the likely man behind the move.
Koeman, Albelda said, was vague as to why he and Cañizares had been singled out. "I haven't received an explanation from the president or anyone in his circle," the Spanish international claimed. "It's hard to believe it was for sporting reasons... Koeman said he didn't believe in my leadership, either on or off [the field], and I replied that he had been here three weeks and he didn't know me well enough. He doesn't know how much I have worked to get where I am today."
Albelda said he accepted the idea that successful eras must come to an end, but not the way in which the decision had been handled. "They can't humiliate me because I will always be remembered at Valencia with affection. I have been a humble guy, who helped out and gave it his all." Albelda's nine years at the club saw Valencia win two Liga titles, two major cup competitions and make two Champions League final appearances. Since Koeman's arrival at the end of October, Valencia has entered a trough, winning just one league game and setting a club record of six games without scoring.
Asked again why he thought his head had been put on the block, Albelda admitted that perhaps his frankness had been to blame. "It's a question of being straight and telling the truth," he said. While Albelda said he would be looking to find a new club in the January transfer window, possibly in the English or Italian leagues, veteran goalkeeper Cañizares said the move may be "the farewell God had in store for me."
Like Albelda, Cañizares said he had not been given a proper explanation for the decision. "I am being dismissed by the club I always dreamed of," the former Spanish international who joined Valencia in 1998 said with visible emotion. "At the age of 38, it's difficult for another club to put its faith in you."
But Albelda and Cañizares are not the only seasoned players to fall in Koeman's cull. On Wednesday it emerged that midfielder Miguel Ángel Angulo, who made his debut for Valencia in 1997, had also been discarded. Meanwhile, rumors are rife that the knife is also out for Vicente, another emblematic player at Mestalla stadium. Having suffered a series of injuries over the past three seasons, the left winger recently criticised club doctor Antonio Giner, a personal friend of President Soler. Vicente was sanctioned by the club for what it considered a breach of discipline.
Another player Koeman is known not to favour is striker Nikola Zigic. The Serb, however, gave Valencia its first win for over a month on Wednesday night, scoring twice in a 2-1 King's Cup first leg against Real Unión. Elsewhere, Real Madrid was held 1-1 at Alicante, with coach Bernd Schuster blaming the referee for awarding the home team a penalty. In the UEFA Cup, Getafe secured first place in its group with a 2-1 home win over Anderlecht.
[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL./ J. BADCOCK 2007]
Subject: Spanish news