Saturday December 31 2016
New Year reservations

After a 2016 to forget for Valencia, 2017 threatens to be no different following Cesare Prandelli's bombshell. Daryl Hammond explains why.

After a year rife with bereavement and bewilderment, it seems many of us want to leave 2016 firmly in the past. And it is almost certain the same can be said of Valencia and their fans.

It has been a year where many have laughed off the seemingly impossible, then sideswiped by the blunt realities of life. Now just a point above the bottom three, the implausible prospect of relegation has become more than fantasy for Los Che.

For all their strife last season, some believed things could only improve without the much-maligned Gary Neville at the helm, his appointment just one of many twists on the 2016 rollercoaster.

Then Andre Gomes left. And Paco Alcacer. And Shkodran Mustafi. And with just three League wins so far this season, Valencia have had as many Coaches in the dugout than victories on the pitch, with Cesare Prandelli the latest to vacate the role after just 90 days in charge.

In his relatively short time at Mestalla, the former Italy CT had already understood the enormity of the task that laid ahead of him. With a team stripped of their quality and bereft of confidence he cried out for reinforcements in the New Year. Experienced and quality players to see them through arguably one of the most difficult periods in the club’s recent history.

The ex-Galatasaray boss demanded four to five players. He was told he could only have one. Even that deal for Juventus’ Simone Zaza had yet to have been finalised.

Aboard a sinking ship that had sprung a leak well before he had ever set foot on it, he jumped while he could, feeling unable to do his job.

And the Italian was very candid in his criticism of the board, with both sides taking jabs at each other in their respective press conferences

Club director Suso Pitarch hit back at Prandelli’s unrealistic demands and dubbed his resignation “an act of irresponsibility”.

With Financial Fair Play a factor, Valencia’s once-free-spending owner had taken back his blank cheque in favour of rebuilding the squad slowly over several seasons.

Indeed, some are already calling for majority shareholder Peter Lim to go, easy considering how rarely the Singapore businessman is ever in Spain. It is perhaps no surprise, then, that Prandelli called the board “numbers people” who ignored the heart of football.

It is easy to blame the plethora of Coaches who have walked through the revolving Mestalla doors, and at times justifiably so. But with such a great turnover, attention begins to turn to those who appoint them.

Valencia have tried both ends of the managerial spectrum. They experimented with the young and untested Gary Neville, juxtaposed with an experienced campaigner in Prandelli. Neither option has borne fruit.

Now here comes Voro Gonzalez to once again fan the flames. His appearance in the managerial hotseat is usually an unsettling sight, signalling more often than not some has gone wrong. And more often than not, it has for Valencia.

However, with the club willing to roll the dice on the match day delegate, his presence - being a Che legend - could offer them much-needed stability.

While not of its once lofty statue, objectively speaking, Valencia’s squad is too good for relegation, despite a lack of further investment.

But the past year has challenged all preconceived notions of what should happen. And you can forgive valencianistas for their lack of optimism in the New Year.

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