We all know the story of the Trojan Horse – after a fruitless 10 yr siege of Troy, the Greeks built a figure in shape of a horse in which a select group of soldiers hid. The Greek army then pretended to sail away which tricked the Trojans who pulled the horse into their city in a show of victory.
Under the cover of darkness, the army sailed back into town, their hidden soldiers emerged from the horse statue and opened the city gates for waiting Greek soldiers.
While Valencia is neither a Greek army nor engaged in a siege against fellow La Liga teams, the team has finally turned the tide following a tumultuous 3 months.
“The only thing we want is to win to reach second spot and reduce the points advantage that Barca have…” Those were comments made by club goalkeeper Renan Brito in the new year prior to the team’s mauling of Atletico Madrid and the subsequent downturn in fortunes. Yet almost midway through this season, things looked rosy for Los Che; they sat in 2nd place, looked heavy favorites in the UEFA Cup and looked assured of Champions league football the following season.
Then the well dried up. The bottom came falling out. Valencia was in a financial meltdown, the club was effectively doomed. Idiomatically, Valencia was a fool who soon parted with her money as she had put all her eggs in one basket, resulting in her becoming as poor as a church mouse leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Ex club President Juan Soler’s ill conceived plan sunk the club to a tune of over €600m.
In 4 years, fresh off from winning the league and UEFA Cup in 2004, the club had gone through five sporting directors, spent €30m on getting rid of 3 managers, banished its 3 longest serving players, faced a €60m lawsuit by one of its players and quintupled its debt with no trophies to show for it.
Furthermore, Valencia were stuck with 2 stadiums – an old one it couldn’t sell and a new one it couldn’t afford to finish, – 2 training grounds, – one it desperately needed to sell and a new one it might never get to use. In addition the club owed €60m to the banks, due ASAP. The players hadn’t been paid in 2 months, the club was without a win in 9 games and lay 8th in the table. As Tommy Smyth would say, “The club has nothing left in the old onion bag”.
But it did. Not in the old onion bag or any other porous pockets but in the shape of local business group Fomento Urbano de Castellon. The club secured a €50m loan from the construction magnet which was set aside to pay outstanding wages. Three months after receiving their last paycheck, a hapless locker room turned jubilant and the club began to win once again. The agony and grin on player’s faces were gone, replaced with joy and congratulatory hugs. Since then, the club has won 4 on the trot and occupy a Champions league spot on the table.
Golden boy a la world’s best striker David Villa looks magnificent on and off the pitch with 5 goals in his last 4 matches. David Silva is playing out of his skin, former Real Madrid cast away Juan Manuel Mata just earned himself contract and Joaquin’ s petulance is at an all time high as evident by his sheer pubescent reaction following his substitution during the weekend’s theatrical performance against Sevilla at the Mestalla.
Theatrical performance you ask?
Yup, the Valencia – Sevilla encounter swung along the lines of a Shakespearean novel rather than a football match, needless to say it was a sight for sore eyes. Oscar winning performances – check! Animosity against fellow stage actors – check!! Inept authority figure – checkaroo!!! In what Guardian journalist Sid Lowe referred to as “a game that was a cheat-fest, packed with scything challenges, dreadful dives, utter lunacy, appalling refereeing, and some shameful play-acting,” Valencia and Sevilla’s ill-tempered affair resulted in 15 yellow cards and a solitary disappointing red card.
Here’s a recap of the drama aptly titled:
Stacking the Deck
Act 1, Scene 1
With 8 minutes on the clock Jesus Navas’ right field corner finds the head of Escude, 15 – Love to Sevilla. A little later Jesus Navas earns a silly yellow as he blocks David Silva from taking a quick free kick.
Act 1, Scene 2
Mere minutes later Valencia captain Albelda leaves a flailing arm which conveniently finds the head of Renato. Blood streamed out. Albelda professed his innocence, the referee bought it. Albelda plays the role of good Samaritan by kicking the ball straight at Renato following the restart. No harm, no foul.
Act 1, Scene 3
Seconds later, Rojiblanco midfielder Duscher fouls Silva. The yellow card is shown. Right after, Villa nutmegs left back Adriano. Adriano is called for the foul and receives a yellow card. Sebastian Squillaci protest earns him nothing but a card. Tempers continue to flare as Baraja adds a sore ankle to Renato’s sore head. He gladly accepts a booking. Valencia right back Miguel receives a yellow card for … well for being himself.
Act 1, Scene 4
A minute till half time and Adriano received his marching orders following a rough challenge from behind to David Villa. Interestingly enough Sevilla manager Manolo Jimenez reckoned he’d wait till the second half to make a defensive substitution but sees his plan goes awry when Mata, doing his best effort to levitate feels the effects of gravity by a not so grave clip by Escude. Valencia 1 – Sevilla 1, thanks to a David villa penalty. Immediately after, Manolo chucked out left winger Perotti for defender Aquivaldo Mosquera – better late than never.
Act 2, Scene 1
€25m record signing turned flop Joaquin is put out of his misery with the introduction of Pablo Hernandez 10 minutes into the second half. Joaquin isn’t happy, neglects a pat on the back by Coach Unai Emery and heads straight down the tunnel with heavy eyes. Did someone once say grown men don’t cry?
Act 2, Scene 2
Valencia continued to press 10 man Sevilla and are rewarded when Fernando Navarro relives the memories of Paco Hervas – the famous Spanish Volleyball player – by volleying the ball in his own box. Mata slots in the penalty to give the home side the lead.
Act 2, Scene 3
Sevilla’s night gets much worse as manager Manolo Jimenez receives his marching orders after chastising the referee for not allowing him to make a quick change in personnel.
Act 2, Scene 3
With injury time left to play, the newly introduced Luis Fabiano gets in on the violent spree as he catches Valencia’s Raul Albiol with a high boot.
Act 2, Scene 4
Morientes reckons it’s best not to be the last kid to get chosen during a pick up game and gets his name in the book.
Act 2, Scene 5
Pablo Hernandez secured all 3 points for punch-drunk Valencia with a near post strike 3 minutes into added time. Valencia run out 3-1 winners.
The win puts David Villa and co. five points behind 3rd place Sevilla with 7 games left to play. And for the 1,250th time, Villa stated his desire to remain at the club. Stick that where the sun don’t shine Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and a bunch of other clubs i can’t seem to recall.