Crisis at Valencia

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Valencia suffers institutional crisis both on and off field.

9 January 2008

VALENCIA/MADRID - When trainer Quique Flores was fired from Valencia after the ninth Liga round, the situation was described as "irreversible." The team was fourth in the league, had won six of nine games, and was still a contender in the Champions League.

Fast forward nine Liga rounds, with Dutch trainer Ronald Koeman in charge for the last seven, and the picture is even uglier. Valencia, now seventh and 17 points from leaders Real Madrid, has seen victory in only one of these seven games; is out the Champions and UEFA; and was finally saved from extending its new club record for a scoring drought (which had previously stood for 40 years) by two pre-Christmas King's Cup goals.

Not only have results worsened, but Valencia has also been at the centre of scandals that have little or nothing to do with on-field performance. Veterans Santiago Cañizares, David Albelda and Miguel Ángel Angulo seem to have been benched indefinitely for their resistance to club president Juan Soler's new direction. Soler, meanwhile, is forging on with plans for a new stadium despite having doubled the team's debt in the three years he has occupied the post.

Player Manuel Fernandes was detained for assaulting a police officer while out drinking last week, and a video of Argentine recruit Éver Banega having cybersex has been posted on the web. He was also involved in the trashing of a hotel room last summer.

With Valencia in crisis, few are actually talking about soccer, although perhaps with good results on the soccer pitch, the rest would be more readily forgiven.

[Copyright EL PAÍS /Cándido Romaguera / Kelly Ramundo / Nuria Tesón Martín 2008]

Subject: Spanish news

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