Promises and predictions are the eternal enemy of those who work in football. Whether that refers to Pele’s outlandish remarks throughout his years of retirement or just a forward openly pointing out a goals target, disappointment often rears its head.
Therefore, the same must be said for Valencia President Amadeo Salvo. Following the club’s 3-1 win over Sevilla at Mestalla in September, the chief made the audacious claim that Coach Miroslav Djukic would be in charge at the end of the season ‘no matter what’.
At the time Djukic was under pressure following a poor start to his Valencia career after moving from Real Valladolid in the summer, but the win over Sevilla reportedly saved his job and he would remain in place for about another three months.
However, despite Salvo’s promise regarding Djukic’s future, the Serbian got the boot on Monday December 16 after losing 3-0 at Atletico Madrid on Sunday.
When a President or important club official gives the Coach his support, generally in modern football it is seen as a ‘kiss of death’. Former Sevilla chief Jose Maria del Nido became particularly synonymous with the phenomenon.
But, as much as anything, the timing of the club’s decision is highly questionable itself. The very fact that he has been ditched on the back of a defeat to Atletico seems to suggest that he was expected to get a result.
Let us not forget, this is the same Atletico who had won 13 of their 15 league matches going into the encounter, while they were yet to drop a single point at Vicente Calderon.
Up next for Valencia – after Thursday’s Copa del Rey tie with Gimnastic Tarragona – sees Real Madrid come to town. It is hardly an ideal week for a new man to come in and put his mark on the team. Djukic rather refreshingly admitted that he ‘did not understand’ the club’s decision to get rid of him so early, and although his side have not performed to expectation, it is difficult not to sympathise.
The situation partly resembles the predicament of Andre Villas-Boas at Tottenham, who lost his job on the very same day. A key player was sold during the summer, the sporting director hires replacements and they fail to deliver. While Javi Fuego has impressed, Helder Postiga and Dorlan Pabon have not. The duo cost a combined total of €11m, but between them they have scored just six League goals in 25 matches.
Whilst Los Che also took action to remove sporting director Braulio Vazquez and replace him with former winger Rufete, in a new role as general manager, Djukic is probably right in thinking he has been harshly dealt with, but it is unlikely that will cause him too many problems when looking for a new job.
Meanwhile, all Salvo has proven is that his words cannot be taken at face value. No Valencia Coach will ever feel safe as long as he is President.