The vultures were circling. Soon it became a matter of “when”, not “if” Javi Gracia would leave Valencia. Some reports said it would be at the end of the season, but it came on Monday (May 3), right after a 2-3 loss to Barcelona and with just 4 LaLiga games to play.
The defeat meant Valencia were winless 6 games straight and hovering just 6 points above the relegation zone. Just as it seemed Los Che were safely in mid-table, we are now being dragged back into a relegation dogfight.
The former Watford manager joined last summer, but was already threatening to resign by October as he voiced his concern over the lack of signings. Things on the pitch started decently with 2 wins, 2 defeats and a draw. But performances were erratic through the season, with one step forward – most memorably the 4-1 win against Real Madrid – often followed by 2 or 3 steps back.
Fans questioned the lack of a settled starting XI coupled with uninspired attacking displays despite the firepower up front. The continued absence of players like Lee Kang In and Hugo Guillamon, promising young players who might have felt this season would be their breakthrough moment, further raised doubts about Gracia. Even when the requested January signings came in, they were hardly given a look in, save for Christian Oliva.
The dismissal may add to the aching melancholy of what has been a write-off of a season, but at the same time it offers renewed hope with a familiar, battle-hardened face at the helm.
On the last stretch of the season’s business end, there may be no better man than Voro to lift the club – not just off the relegation spots, but in spirits as well. After all, the Valencia stalwart has been there, done that, and done that again.