Valencia Coach Nuno Espirito Santo has defended himself from criticism of the team’s style and results and his close relationship with owner Peter Lim.
Los Che have endured an inconsistent start to the season but went into the international break on the back of a 5-1 win at Celta Vigo, a result Nuno admitted to AS gave him some breathing room amid the pressure of the critics.
“It would be more difficult without that, of course, but the project can’t be based on a game as bad as [the defeat to] Gent,” he insisted.
“Gent was a mirage, certainly. If only you could erase it from the calendar. But it was a turning point. In Vigo we saw Valencia’s pillars: solidarity, competitiveness, commitment and communication.
“We didn’t start from scratch. We had a strong base last year and the basics are there. We can’t expect to be like last year. And we don’t want to be. We need to evolve. It’s another reality.
“The basic principles are there but you have to re-educate concepts, evolve and that takes time to consolidate.”
Nuno admitted though that the late August departure of Nicolas Otamendi was a blow to his defensive strategy, but took issue with the figure of €141m spent on the squad.
“It’s clear [losing Otamendi hurt]. He was with us until a week before we played Monaco,” Nuno recalled.
“Nico let us defend a different way. His virtue was his anticipation and that made the team play differently. We can’t be the same with him as without him.
“But a team is built from a squad, not an individual. Vezo, Anderlan Santos and Aymen Abdennour are working well, but they have different characteristics to Nico.
“The figure [of €141m] is distorted. Yes, it’s €141m, but in two seasons. With comings and goings. But beyond that, the Valencia fans need to understand the philosophy of the current Valencia.
“Construction and growth. Maybe people expected another profile of players. But the quality and the potential of those who have been signed is there.
“When you’re talking about amounts of money it’s relative. Yes, we have invested in young players with great potential. But there are also contrasts. You don’t decide the prices, the market does.
“We look for players with profiles that fit. Then it’s the market that will specify who is on the list and we’ll study the operation.
“It’s too early to say if we’ll sign in January. It’s time for analysis and dialogue with the owner. There are players who have been injured and will recover. We’ll look at what we need and act. But my confidence in the squad is absolute.”
Nuno on Thursday travelled to Singapore to speak with the club bosses, with Super Deporte reporting a striker and wingers will be targeted in January.
But Nuno told the interview, conducted before his trip, that his place on the bench isn’t guaranteed because he is close to Lim.
“I’m a Coach. I live on results, as all my colleagues. But I’m in a project that is the medium term. Of course I fear for my job,” he said.
“Every day I question things myself. I’m not indispensable. But I don’t question my ability and certainly not for a bad game. Stability is what this project needs, and more of a philosophy and more youth.
“Would you put the most important project of your life in the hands of someone because they’re a friend? Nobody would do that if you didn’t see they had the ability.
“I’m not essential but I have the capacity. And I think the owner recognises that too. Being a friend of the owner doesn’t make you untouchable.
“Mr Lim knows what happens. And he more than anyone is clear on the project. This is reflected in the team, a young team that needs stability to reach its potential. Time.
“With Mr Lim, in turn, trophies will return to Valencia. But if we all rush, bad. Our goal remains the Champions League. That’s our responsibility.”