Last Thursday Miroslav Djukic looked to be one poor result away from the sack after a dismal loss to Swansea in the Europa League. 7 days later and a newly unified squad, albeit with the exception of Adil Rami, have put an end to their hopeless league form with two wins that have transformed their entire outlook.
A last minute winner against Granada, greeted with euphoric celebrations from the players and coaching staff, would have seemed impossible to imagine just last week. Jonas’ strike ensured another three points and maintained their position in 7th place having wallowed in the bottom three for the first month of the new campaign.
Such was the positivity from the win the squad made a dressing room photo of them together public to silence their critics, sending a message to their doubters. A notable absentee was Rami, who had been suspended for derogatory comments about Djukic in the press over the weekend, and the unity of the squad in the photo seemed to show no sympathy to the punished Frenchman.
It appears that Rami has played his final game for Los Che but the team are not showing their disappointment. Instead the Spanish media have begun to link Rami with moves to Arsenal, Chelsea and even Manchester City, presumably due to a relapse in mundane transfer rubbish which has hit the sensationalist tabloids during the past month.
The printed stories concerning Valencia is significant this morning though as they had not so long ago been critical of Djukic. Now the Serbian has the pressure of the press lifted onto another individual, more deserving of the nascent headlines that will come his way.
Djukic, a former Valencia player during their successful era at the beginning of the century, has conducted himself admirably despite the hefty criticism from the board, fans and press. The former Valladolid manager probably felt he’d be treated with more respect than previous Valencia managers, those who were given mere weeks to change the fortunes of a club suffering a downward spiral amidst the Barca/Real duopoly in La Liga.
Yet his cohorts soon turned, culminating in a ‘win at all costs’ encounter with Sevilla at the weekend. Following the 3-0 defeat to Swansea, fans of Los Che feared the worst, especially with a manager they berated so unfairly now at the helm of Sevilla – Unai Emery. Yet Valencia showed character and grit. Jonas scored twice, showing signs he’s adapting to the pressure of filling in for Roberto Soldado, and an instrumental display from youngster Federico Cartabia helped the side to a 3-1 win, in turn sending Sevilla to the bottom and themselves above their opponents.
Djukic was spared and now with another win under his belt looks to have endured his torrid introduction. Fans and his players are onside. Progression in the Europa League remains an expected achievement and Valencia look in better shape now than they have done this season to ensure they overturn their terrible start. A home win against bottom side Rayo Vallecano, who have conceded 20 goals in their past 4 games, will only strengthen Valencia’s belief for the season ahead. The game will be significant for Djukic as it is perhaps his first one where the pressure is at an acceptable level.