The third and final part of the season review will focus on the future. What do our guys think about that?
“What are the main weaknesses you have seen this season in Nuno’s Valencia? How would you strengthen the team?”
I have spotted three main weaknesses. The first is lack of creativity and attacking alternatives when the back/wing play doesn’t work. At times the team have looked clueless when entering the final third, especially when Gayá has been absent. Also, there is an over dependency on the left side for most games (Levante a notable exception), although Feghouli have been efficient when given the opportunity to cross.
The second is the concentration on defensive set pieces. Too many goals have come after sloppy marking. It seems being one of the teams scoring most frequently on set pieces does not automatically mean you defend them well.
The third is transitional play. While the team has improved, there is still more to be desired just as possession is switching. This is also one of my main complaints about Dani Parejo and at times also Andre; they tend to need 2-3 seconds to remember that they should work to win the ball back. My other complaint with the captain is also related (again this goes for Andre and also Otamendi, Barragán and Fuego as well). A bit too often these players fail passes in the start up phase of attacks and transitions, often leading to chances, and goals, for the opposition. It is about taking chances when it is smart, and not to when the risk is too high.
When strengthening the team, I would mainly look for 4 players. Firstly, we need a right back to replace Cancelo (or we can keep him). It is not easy finding the kind of back Valencia need to a price that FFP allows. I’d have a look at Sporting’s Cedric.
Secondly, I’d want another midfielder who could fill the defensive position. Javi Fuego has had a marvelous season, but his technical talent and physical presence are somewhat limited. If Nuno plans to continue using Enzo in that position, we should look for an other type of midfielder, still with a physical presence. What do you get if you put a bit of Keita and a bit of Baraja and mix it together?
Thirdly, we do need an alternative on the right wing, someone who can alternate with Feghouli and provide width, penetration and ideally also a physical presence. “A more physical Pedro” someone said. Sounds about right. Arda-ish.
Lastly, and I know many disagree, I would like to see us add another striker to the squad. Claudio López. David Villa. That style. Pacy, goal scoring, participative. Someone who can make us even more deadly on counters.
technical attackers, so it might be difficult to find those solutions. Enzo Pérez comeback hopefully
“Pick one current player and explain why you think he will be better next season?”
Easy, Enzo Pérez. He joined mid season after a long saga and a world cup with Argentina. With time to settle in, I still believe Enzo can be the player that lifts the Valencia midfield to another level with transitional skills and physical presence. He will seriously challenge either Fuego or Parejo next season, depending on Nuno’s plans. Another tip would be Rodrigo Moreno.
Paco Alcácer. If he can remain injury free he will become bigger, better, bolder, rougher and tougher – and score plenty of more goals! Wait, that almost sounds like Negredo, apart from the bigger!
Enzo Pérez. Has not impressed since that debut vs Real Madrid, but he is definitely quality. Seems to be well integrated in our tough Argentinian gang already.
My pick will be Álvaro Negredo who have struggled finding the net this season. I think he offers much more to the club the club when it comes to build up play than Paco does. Paco seems to disappear from the game in that part of the match, while Negredo offers strength and ability to hold on to the ball while the rest of the team move further up the pitch.
The problem this season have been the ability to convert chances (it’s been many of them) to counting goals. Some sparks of former greatness have occurred, but he needs to return and become the shark again. I think the injury he came with this summer have made it difficult for him to find his goal scoring form. He will surely benefit from a proper pre-season this summer, and I hope that also brings him back to the goal scorer he can be.
“Will the next season be the year of the Bat?”
It seems to me everyone expects next season to be even better. It is probably prudent to keep in mind that this season is actually one of the very best Valencia have made since the 70s points wise. In addition we will see the return of European football which will affect the team in the league. Sevilla and Villarreal are lurking just behind and who’s to say they won’t be joined by for example Athletic?
No, I don’t think Valencia will win anything next season, nor challenge for the title yet. That though does not mean it wont be a great year for the bat! It is crucial to make CL again to keep the investment growing steadily. With it, income will also grow and we can slowly mount a challenge for bigger things.
Are the youngsters ready to compete in all competitions yet? Is Nuno ready for it? Despite a great season, one feels that there’s still more to get from players like Enzo Pérez and Rodrigo Moreno, who’ve cost us a fortune. At the same time, Champions League also means it’s much more attractive to join Valencia (who finally gets positive attention in the international press again).
At the time of writing, FFP still bars the club from changing the squad too much. Which means Nuno needs to get a lot more out of his current players than he has done this season if next spring is to be interesting for us. The surge of positivism among the fans (something the club play on for all it’s worth) can be a double-edged sword. It can bring what is essentially a half-baked team into greatness. Or into deception, no matter how realistic i.e. a 5th spot in the league, a semi final in Copa del Rey, and an early UCL knockout stage exit might be.
I don’t think we will win the league title, but I think we will be closer. I hope we reach the quarterfinal in the Champions League and finish 3rd in the Primera. Of course I hope we win Primera and Champions League, but that isn’t realistic.
Too early, as our young squad hopefully has to balance La Liga with CL, but we are promising. Need to go step by step. When we are established in CL, we can think about upgrading in order to abide by FFP.
Yes, as I always believe. Big things are about to happen!
Lastly we asked the guys to describe each player with a one word (or sometimes two or three) description, here’s the result:
– Give 1-10 grade and one adjective for each player, plus Nuno and Rufete. And who is your favorite player?!
|My most favorite player this season is without doubt Otamendi. I just love the tradition of fierce yet graceful Titan centre back, fighting for the black and white. Ota has the potential to become a giant among giants; Djukic, Ayala, Camarasa, Pellegrino, Marchena etc!||Because he is a symbol, a captain without captaincy; Otamendi.||Ayala is my all-time favourite, so it can only be one. Otamendi. Sadly, I lost my shirt with his name on the back during a wet night in Valencia downtown. Will have to get a new Senyera one soon in order to kill off those Manchester United rumours.||Otamendi is my favorite this season as he have delivered top preformances in every game and being crucial for our progress||Even if he could be wanting to leave, Otamendi is my undoubted choice. Without his character, effort and ability to read the game we would never have finished 4th. It is very rare one becomes this excited about a central defender! Puto amo!|
|Nuno 9, spiritualizer||Nuno 9, Teambuilder||Nuno – 9 – organizer||Nuno – Fan favorite||Nuno 7 motivator. He came pretty much still wet behind the ears, but has delivered what he promised with a UCL spot with La Liga’s youngest squad. Still a lot of room for improvement as certain substitutions and tactical choices has seen him lose points. But has brought an exciting playing style which has potential to beat the best.|
|Rufete 8, cunning||Rufete 9, Constructor||Rufete – 5 – cuckolded||Rufete – Smartness on two feet||Rufete 8 omnipresent. I’ve personally seen what this man does, and it’s actually hard to understand how he manages it all. Supervising youth teams, renew contracts, scout, while still saluting everybody with a smile. But his credit here is for striking gold with several signings that was economic in a difficult time. And he believed in Gayá too.|
|Alves 9, master||Alves 9, World class||Alves 8 Parapenaltis||Alves (10) Word class goalie.||Diego Alves – 9, savior. Keeps improving, keeps saving penalties. But most of all stops a lot of clear goal chances by amazing reading of opposition strikers and incredible reflexes. Six months without him will be felt, even if well timed.|
|Yoel 4, sacrificed||Yoel 3, Chanceless||Yoel 2 Shaky||Yoel (4)||A special mention to Yoël, who stepped in for Diego Alves in the final minutes against Almería. With time running out, he threw the sublime pass to Feghouli to set up Paco’s multi-million winner. Apart from that he showed maturity and skill, making Alves’ absence less ominous.|
|Otamendi 10, magnificent||Otamendi 9, Immense||Otamendi 10 Warrior||Otamendi (10) Our best player this season||Otamendi – 10 the general. Nuff said. Has come from despair in Portugal, via mediocre league football in Brazil to the best defender in the world. Stats at sites like Whoscored or Squawka says it all.|
|Mustafi 8, galant||Mustafi 9, Puppetmaster||Mustafi 8 Germanwings (those Espanyol games though…)||Mustafi (9)||Mustafi – 6 general’s apprentice. Struggled initially with consistency, but has become a great partner to Ota. Can still improve his game, but has lots of potential for more. Needs to find consistency.|
|Barragán 5, lucky||Barragán 6, Limited||Barragán 6 Improving||Barragán (7) Better than before||Barragán – 7 work ant. Keeps it simple, and does it best that way. Has improved his defensive game, but still has room for improvement. His Playmobile movements makes me doubt he can get that much better, though.|
|Orbán 5, potential||Orbán 5, Terminatorian||Orban 6 Allrounder||Orban (7) A good tackler||Orban – 6 more than a boy band member. It’s not easy to stay on top of the game when getting irregular chances. But he’s generally done it well, especially in the latter half of the season.|
|Vezo 5, second draft||Vezo 7, Talented||Vezo 4 Loan-out||Vezo (6)||Vezo – 3 forgotten. Hasn’t got many chances yet, but has delivered when tried, his lack of|
|Cancelo 5, enigma||Cancelo 4, Potential||Cancelo 5 Winger||Cancelo (6) Bright future||Cancelo – 6 the new Isco? Another that is hard to assess for lack of significant playing time, and which might be scrapped for Benfica wanting €15 million for him. But might he be a right-sided Gayá? If his enormous potential is warranted, he might be worth keeping for that sum.|
|De Paul 3, stray cat||De Paul 5, Creativity||De Paul 6 Promising||De Paul (7) Talented||De Paul 6 joker. Struggled at first, but with more playing time in the second half of the
season has shown a multifaceted player. Still, one feels that he’s still a bit green, and needs
to gel a bit more into the direct style. Still young, and if he learns better shot precision, we have something to look forward to.
|Enzo 4, not my cup of tea||Enzo 4, Larvae||Enzo 5 Non-present||Enzo (6) Have to step up||Enzo Pérez 4 unreleased. For that huge price tag, we all expected more. Still, glimpses of
greatness has appeared, which promises a lot if he can just fit into Nuno’s team. And that, Nuno, is your responsibility too!
|Rodrigo 6, wild rover||Rodrigo 3, Unadapted||Rodrigo 4 Frustration||Rodrigo (6) Need to settle||Rodrigo Moreno 4 untamed. Nobody doubts one of Spain’s biggest talents possesses skills, especially speed. But has suffered from unwise choices and poor finishing to eventually lose his spot in the first team. Next season better be better.|
|Parejo 8, a blend of Albelda & Baraja in one||Parejo 8, Decisive||Parejo 9 Maturing||Parejo (7) Picking points||Parejo 7 polarized. 12 goals and 5 assist says how fundamental he has been. Still, lack of
concentration and precision on his risky passing game could have cost just as much. But it’s weird to think back at the time when even his ex girlfriend made fun of him, and see where he is today.
|Piatti 8, brave||Piatti 8, Proven||Piatti 9 Assisting||Piatti (7)||Piatti 6 quantum particle. Had a great period during the autumn, but his form has dipped considerably after Christmas. Has still been vital this season, but might be too lightweight as Los Che enter the Champions League.|
|Gomes 7, elegant||Gomes 9, Virtuoso||Gomes 7 Dynamic||Gomes (8)||André Gomes 8 conductor. Just have four goals and two assist, but for his age shows great vision, skills and creativity. Simply a revelation!|
|Fuego 8, thorough||Fuego 8, Steady||Fuego 6 Mediocre||Fuego (8) defensive worker||Fuego-8 commited. I for one thought he was too simple for a team with big ambitions. A modern player has to do more, right? Well, I’m not so sure anymore. As mentioned above, he’s been the stabilizer in a team that is otherwise often disconnected when caught out. He’s also a great guy, of course.|
|Feghouli 7, creative||Feghouli 6, Errate||Feghouli 7 Hard-working||Feghouli (7)||Feghouli 7 duracell bunny. Often started from the bench, but has proved many times that he electrifies the attack with his daredevil raids. The opposition left back’s nightmare, but also has bad days.|
|Gayà 6, future||Gayà 9, Revelation||Gayà 8 Establishing||Gayà (8) Who is Alba?||Gayá – 10 the new idol. Has qualities that supercedes Jordi Alba and Bernat, and by rejecting a big move, shows his loyalty. Can become a club legend on par with Puchades and Kempes by time. Key in all phases of the game.|
|Alcacér 8, artist||Alcacér 7, Young||Paco 6 (too) unselfish||Alcacér (8) Poacher||Alcácer 6 jack-in-the-box. Paquito’s season could have been better, as eleven goals is a bit on the short side for a striker on an upper-league team. But his exquisite sense of being in the right place at the right time along with razor-sharp first time finishes bodes well for the future. Scored the most important goal of the season.|
|Negredo 7, strong||Negredo 6, World on his shoulders||Negredo 5 Stationary||Negredo (7) Needs a pre-season||Negredo 4 toothless. He was the marquee signing, but lack of service along with some personal problems saw him fail to live up to his shark reputation. To his defence, he worked hard, and paved way for many midfielders and defenders to score the necessary goals. But next season better see more than five goals.|