Once again, Valencia enter the forthcoming season with a new face in charge of the playing staff. Gennaro Gattuso is the 22nd different coach for Valencia this century, and the 10th since Peter Lim took ownership of the club in the summer of 2014.
Gattuso, who has the nickname of “the snarling dog” from his playing days with AC Milan, has signed a contract until June 30th 2024. Known for his aggressive style of play on the field, he comes across as a no-nonsense character off it, which could lead to an interesting relationship with the current owner… once the honeymoon period between the pair is over.
The Italian had a very successful playing career with AC Milan, and prior to that played for Glasgow Rangers in the late 1990s, where he learned to speak some English. He started his UEFA coaching badges whilst at ‘I Rossoneri’ and took his first managerial role at FC Sion after ending his playing career with the Swiss team.
His tenure with the Swiss club lasted less than four months, before he rescinded his contract, on the basis that the Italian club Palermo were showing interest after being relegated from Serie A.
Again, at Palermo, his stay was short, leaving the Sicillian club after just six matches in charge. Just under a year later he was back in management, this time with the OFI Crete, the Greek super league club. Five months later, a tendered resignation saw him out of football again.
An unsuccessful application for the vacant managerial position at Hamilton Academicals, was followed by a return to football with the Italian club Pisa, in August 2015.
A successful campaign that season saw the Tuscany club promoted from Serie B, but before the new season started Gattuso resigned citing “serious, constant and unacceptable” problems for the reason for leaving.
His next job was with the youth team at AC Milan, which became the stepping stone for him taking over the first team role when Vincenzo Montello was sacked. In the two seasons that Gattuso was at the helm, the club failed to claim a Champions League spot. He left AC Milan by mutual consent in May 2019.
He then followed Carlo Ancelotti into the hot seat at Napoli. Here he had one of his major successes as a coach, winning the Italian Cup, after beating Juventus on penalties. Failure to get into the Champions League by one place then cost him his job in Naples. Two days after this sacking he was put in charge of Fiorentina. However this contract was rescinded before he had officially started, as Valencia CF came calling.
Peter Lim finally got his man, but the dynamics between the controversial Italian and the stubborn Singapore businessman suggest signs of trouble ahead. Hopefully, the partnership will not see the same outcome of the last Italian in charge at Valencia, Cesare Prandelli. He famously resigned after just ten games in charge, citing lack of funding to sign five new players for his shock decision.
Gattuso was also quick to increase the Italian contingent in his coaching squad. His assistant coaches will be Luigi “Gigi” Riccio and Massimo Innocenti. The two Italian fitness coaches will be Bruno Dominici and Dino Tenderini. The opposition scout will be Francesco Sarlo and Marco Sangermani will be on game analyst duties. The final Italian will be the goalkeeping coach Roberto Perrone. The last piece of Gattuso’s coaching jigsaw is the Spaniard José Manuel Ochoterena, who will share the keeping duties with Perrone.
Valencia have already announced several pre-season matches. Los Che will play the top German side Borussia Dortmund at the Cashpoint Arena in Altach Austria, and then a second German club, FC Stuttgart, in their Mercedes – Benz stadium in late July. On the 3rd of August the club have also confirmed they will make the short trip to CD Castellón, and the Trofeo Naranja opponents this year will be Atalanta, who will grace the Mestalla on August 6th.
Recently, the League fixtures were rolled out and Valencia will start their campaign against newly promoted Girona. They then travel to Bilbao to play Athletic. The third match of the season is the juiciest one in the first month… when Los Che entertain Atlético Madrid.
Either side of the World Cup the club have Betis at home and Villarreal away, and should they be in contention for silverware or European football at the end of the season they will have Betis away to contend with in the first week in June.
Levante UD start their experience in the Segunda Division without their talisman leader José Luis Morales, and with a new manager in place after the club decided against renewing the short term contract of Alessio Lisci.
It was no surprise that ‘El Comandante’ left, as a player of the ability of Morales deserves to be playing in the top flight of Spanish football. His transfer to Villarreal sees him continue to play in the region, and it would not be out of the ordinary to see the striker as a spectator at the ‘Estadio Ciutat de València’ when the ‘Yellow Submarine’ are not in action.
A more curious appointment is that of Medhi Nafti as the new coach of ‘Los Granotas’. Having represented Tunisia 46 times, he has an international pedigree and was born in France. He was well-liked by the fans during his spell at Birmingham City. Lugo and Leganes were his last two managerial appointments prior to agreeing to take over at Levante UD.
To date, Levante have three fixtures confirmed prior to start of the season. The most interesting of these is against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Unfortunately, this match is behind closed doors and will not be open to the public.
The other confirmed fixtures are against Getafe and CD Castellón at Pinatar Arena and the Levante UD training ground at Buñol.
Report by John Howden
Article copyright ‘24/7 Valencia’
Valencia CF Fixtures (Confirmed)
Borussia Dortmund v Valencia July 18th (Cashpoint Arena – Altach) 19.00h
Stuttgart v Valencia July 23rd (Mercedes-Benz Arena – Stuttgart) 15.30h
Castellon v Valencia August 3rd (Estadio Municipal de Castilia) 20.45h
Valencia v Atalanta August 6th (Trofeo Naranja-Mestalla) 21.00h
Levante UD Fixtures (Confirmed)
Levante UD v Wolverhampton Wanderers 21st July Kick off tbc (Not open to public)
Levante UD v Getafe 24th July (Pinatar Arena) 19.00h
Levante UD v Castellón (Levante Training Ground – Bunól) 19.00h