It only took three matchdays before the first managerial casualty of the 2019-20 La Liga season arrived. Valencia owner Peter Lim opted to wield the axe on Wednesday 11th September, sacking head coach Marcelino García Toral in the morning, then replacing him just a few hours later by appointing Albert Celades.
The move came as a great surprise for the majority of Valencia supporters, who bombarded the official Valencia CF social networks with angry messages of criticism, principally aimed towards the club directors and especially their Singapore-based owner, Peter Lim.
During his tenure at the club, Marcelino brought stability in La Liga by guiding the team to consecutive fourth spot finishes in each of the last two seasons, which in turn, secured qualification for the Champions League.
In addition, the 54-year-old coach led his team to their first major trophy in over ten years, winning the Copa del Rey last season, beating 2018-19 La Liga champions Barcelona in the final and preventing them from securing a league and cup double.
Despite a mixed start to the 2019-20 campaign, the early Betfair football prediction was for another strong season for Valencia. However, the sacking of Marcelino could now affect betting markets for La Liga and in particular, which teams may now be considered amongst the favourites to finish amongst the top four.
According to reports by Spanish outlet Marca, the decision by Valencia owner Lim wasn’t motivated by results. They claim that Marcelino showed a “lack of respect” after being vocally critical of transfer policy at the club throughout the summer, which in the end, apparently made his position untenable.
Usually in Spanish football, even when sacked, departing managers are at least given the goodwill gesture of a farewell press conference. Nevertheless, that hasn’t been the case for Marcelino. Little more than two hours following the official Valencia statement regarding his dismissal, the club announced the appointment of Albert Celades as his replacement.
During his presentation press conference at the Mestalla stadium, Celades claimed that “everything happened very quickly” when quizzed about his appointment, amid suggestions he’d already been offered the post two weeks ago. “More than it being a case of expecting the call, one always hopes to receive a call for a job like this,” he added rather diplomatically.
⚽ Celades’ first session with the group
— Valencia CF English 🦇💯 (@valenciacf_en) September 11, 2019
Celades enjoyed a successful playing career which included spells at Spain’s two biggest clubs. At Barcelona he won La Liga and the Copa del Rey twice apiece, along with the UEFA Cup Winners Cup and the UEFA Super Cup. After one season with Celta Vigo, he then switched to Real Madrid, winning two more La Liga titles and the Champions League in 2002.
However, the Valencia job is the first head coaching position for Celades in club football. Following stints managing the Spanish U16, U17 and U21 teams, he was promoted to the assistant coach role when Julen Lopetegui managed the Spain national team. Celades followed Lopetegui to Real Madrid in 2018, in what proved a very short and unsuccessful stay.
Spending most of the last year appearing as a pundit for Spanish TV networks, the appointment of Celades at Valencia has surprised many. Nevertheless, the club appears confident he fits their ambitions and current philosophy of encouraging the development of young players. Only time and results will tell if this appointment was the right choice, but his reign didn’t start promisingly as they lost 5-2 even if it was against the defending champions Barcelona.