Valencia - can things get worse than this?
Valencia's results have gone from bad to worse since the departure of Quique.21 January 2008
MADRID - Valencia kicked off their Spanish league season in August with an ominous 3-0 thrashing at home to local rivals Villarreal - and the writing was already on the wall for Quique Sanchez Flores.
The hapless coach was sacked in October, following defeats against Chelsea and Rosenborg Trondheim in the Champions League.
But instead of improving after the departure of Quique, Valencia's results have gone from bad to worse.
The first match without him was a 1-5 humiliation at home to Real Madrid, before replacement coach Ronald Koeman and his many assistants were installed at great expense.
Under Koeman, Valencia have lost any residue of direction, shape and coherence they had before. They have crashed out of the Champions League - finishing bottom in Group B - and slumped to seventh in La Liga, thanks to an unprecedented run of nine games without a win.
Koeman has quickly made himself even more unpopular than Quique, not only because of the results, but also due to his sacking of veterans Santiago Canizares, David Albelda and Miguel Angel Angulo.
This venerated trio were the survivors of the most successful Valencia side in history: the team of Rafa Benitez, which won two leagues, one UEFA Cup and one European Super Cup between 2002 and 2004.
On 18 December Koeman stunned Spanish football by announcing that the trio would no longer be picked. Since then, the lawyers have been working around the clock working out whether they have really been sacked - and how much compensation they should be paid.
Even more unpopular than Koeman, if that were possible, is Valencia president Juan Soler.
Soler was made president in June 2004, just as Benitez was leaving for Liverpool, thanks to his billionaire father buying up a majority of the shares.
Soler has gone through four coaches and four sporting directors in his reign, wasting millions on players like Marco Di Vaio, Stefano Fiore, Hugo Viana and Manuel Fernandes.
Soler has spent most of his time planning a new stadium - whilst his expensive team has been collapsing around his head.
On Saturday, Koeman and company had a good chance to return to the right path, by taking revenge on Villarreal for that August thrashing.
Instead, another limp display led to another 3-0 score line against the modest neighbours.
"Can Things Get Any Worse Than This?" was the headline question asked on Sunday by local sports paper Super Deporte.
Television channel La Sexta, which broadcast the meltdown in Villarreal, described Valencia as a "ship drifting out of control, tossed about in the waves - and in danger of sinking completely."
The next wave that Koeman's drifting ship will have to face is in-form Atletico Madrid in the King's Cup on Wednesday.
That is when any chance of salvaging something from the dismal season will probably be sunk without trace, forcing Soler to reconsider his faith in Koeman.
[Copyright dpa 2008]
Subject: Spanish news