It’s been 13 long years since undoubtedly one of the best days in Valencia’s recent history.
When a Rafa Benitez led Los Che defeated Malaga at La Rosaleda to win their first La Liga in 31 years it was at a time when trophies and titles came easy to the men from Mestalla.
A steep decline followed until two third-placed finishes in 2009/10 and 2010/11 gave supporters hope that the glory days would soon return. However, that notion was swiftly debunked.
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The sales of David Villa (to Barcelona), David Silva (Manchester City) and Juan Mata (Chelsea) meant that the three best players at the club had been sold in quick succession purely to service debt.
In the eyes of the working man who pays his hard-earned euro, there aren’t too many more heinous crimes than when your club sells off its crown jewels with little or nothing reinvested in return.
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Not only that but the white elephant that is the Nou Mestalla stands as a monument of monumental financial mismanagement.
It was therefore with suspicious minds that followers of Valencia reacted to the news that Singaporean businessman Peter Lim had secured a controlling interest in the club.
The negotiations had been long and difficult but a sign of Lim’s commitment was that he stayed true to his word throughout, despite initial opposition to any deal by Bankia, the clubs previous owners.
A tenuous feelgood factor began to return in the locale.
Would it be another false dawn or could the injection of cash and some studious financial and management decisions finally see the good times back again?
Perfect managerial appointment
The best appointment he made is that of manager Nuno Espirito Santo, employed since July after the sacking of Juan Antonio Pizzi.
Never really a household name during his playing career, his tenure in Spain consisted of a handful of appearances for Deportivo La Coruna followed by loan stints at Spanish second division club Merida (where he won the Zamora Trophy for fewest goals conceded), and Osasuna.
Stop offs in Portugal and Russia were other highlights of a journeyman existence.
Fast forward to a management career that is in stark contrast to that from his playing days.
Taking Rio Avenue to the Portuguese Cup and League Cup finals as well as into the UEFA Europa League for the first time in their history, was enough to pique the interest of Valencia.
Up to the task
And as we’ve seen already throughout this season, he is more than up to the task in Spain’s top division.
Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla have all been put to the sword by an intoxicating mix of high-quality counter attacking play aligned to a steely core of which Santo himself would be proud.
Only Barcelona, with a fortuitous 94th-minute Sergio Busquets goal, have left Mestalla with three points.
Whilst a La Liga title will be beyond them this season, a Champions League spot is most definitely within their reach, sitting as they do just four points behind Real Madrid and with a date against Los Blancos still to come.
With Lim’s backing, it’s almost certain that the core of the squad from this season will remain, so maybe it’s time for the Valencianistas to get excited after all.
Can Valencia finish the second in second place, above Real Madrid? Have your say by leaving a comment in the box below!
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