Chescandinavia is delighted to present the experienced reporter Paco Polit as our new columnist. Paco has vast experience covering Valencia CF, and has worked for various media in the capital of Turia, like the online newspaper VlcNews.es. He now works as a radio reporter for Punto Radio, and has appearances on Sillas Gol and Minuto Marcador. And to the delight of our English readers, he’s very fluent in the Anglo-Saxon tongue, and now spend his days as an English teacher. There’s simply no one better to rant about the inner workings of Los Che. And Paco loves to rant. You can also follow him on Twitter as @PacoPolit (Spanish) and as @PacoPolitEng (English).
Insiders and outsiders
by Paco Polit
You see, this written piece should have been handed earlier. Much, *much* earlier. Two months ago, my buddy Pål Ødegård from Peña Valencianista Chescandinavia came up with this crazy idea that maybe, just maybe, English-speaking Valencianistas may like reading something about their favourite team in a language they understand (there’s not enough English content, duh!). News and opinion articles written in Spanish are fine enough, but googletranslating them seems a bit cumbersome, when not directly a pain in the @ss…
“Sure, why not?” Maybe my answer was prompted by the scorching summer heat in Valencia (brain-melting indeed) or by the generous amount of leisure time I had at my disposal. The fact is, once my particular teaching season began, free time has been as rare as a goal by Rodrigo Moreno. Hence the delay.
Once the disclaimer is out of the way, let’s talk about Nuno, shall we?
It may seem a bit overboard to hammer the point home yet once again, but here it comes: opinion-wise, there’s a huge difference between Valencia-based fans and those who follow their team abroad. Blame the media, blame the reportedly ‘particular’ Valencian idiosyncrasy, the fact is the lack of excellent results in this season’s initial stretch has added to the nerve-wrecking, nail-biting, player-booing dark side of the crowd. People are displeased. Fans are angry. And most of the hit has been taken by Nuno, as easy as a scapegoat as there has ever been in the long and stablished history of scapegoats.
The fact is that those media hidden under former president Amadeo Salvo’s umbrella needed some kind of figure to blame after the executive’s exit and Rufete’s departure. And, given that star agent Jorge Mendes (aka. ‘George’) is still a very powerful figure in the football industry and that Peter Lim (he who ultimately greenlights e-v-e-r-y decision made inside the club) retains his almighty status, Nuno was the logical next step. The manager did no favour to himself by stepping to the plate and drawing a bullseye in his forehead, by becoming more or less the only official spokesperson since July 1st and by representing (apparently) the ‘yes-man’ role in every signing that Mendes executed for Valencia. Attaboy.
In all honesty, though, Nuno hasn’t changed much since summer 2014 when he landed in Valencia. He retains the same relentlessness, the same ambition and the same “my way or highway” attitude. He has a strong personality, something incredibly useful when things are on track but that might backfire when encountering problems, as has been the case in this wobbly start of season. Furthermore, the relationship between Lim and Rufete was strained and tense since day one. In similar fashion, Amadeo Salvo’s rant on May 26th (“Mendes cuts no ice inside Valencia CF”, he claimed after Otamendi’s agent confessed that he only engaged in talks with the Portuguese superagent) burned the bridge with George’s camp. Lim had to choose between Salvo/Rufete and Mendes/Nuno… and he chose the latter. His reasons? Who knows? Ultimately, Valencia CF is Lim’s property, so he only exerts his right to decide.
All in all, the scenario was prone for turmoil at the first misstep. Nuno was going to be slapped hard by all those outlets that missed their privileges and leaks from months behind. What nobody could expect was that Nuno himself would hand his newfound haters the axe on a plate by signing inexperienced players for large amounts of money, not evolving on his tactical and managing decisions and, finally, by not being able to spin the new bitter climate amongst the fans in his favour. Enter the spectacular booing the crowd gave him in the Trofeo Naranja game against Roma… even before the game had started. And the media who slams him still claimed their little orchestrated ‘campaign’ had nothing to do.
That’s why fans abroad aren’t able to grasp and fully understand how the energetic, positive, optimistic and fully-supporting Mestalla crowd we saw last season has evolved into a pouty, doubtful, ruthless and incredibly overcritical audience. You *need* to be on site and live and breathe the different opinion-inducing currents that sweep through the city. They may start as a few innocent tweets (that are far, far from being innocent) or comments in a newspaper that aim for Nuno’s neck and quickly evolve into full-fledged chants demanding his resignation (“Nuno go home!”) at every home game. Crazy, crazy stuff.
All in all, being on the outside may not be as bad as it seems. Yes, the excitement of watching a game live can’t be compared to a TV broadcast, and obviously strolling through Valencia’s climate-friendly streets will give you a better suntan that rainy, cold or snowy weather in Scandinavian regions. But it will give you a huge load of perspective. Perspective which will come handy in tough spots such as the one on which the team is stuck right now. After losing in San Mamés (3-1), the lads must bounce back and build up on a winning streak, regardless the football being displayed. Sometimes, the only cure for a complicated illness can be found in winning. And winning. And winning once again.