We all know that Valencia have not been going through...
No Wings to Fly
Going into every new La Liga season, I usually avoid holding high hopes for Valencia, for reasons we all know about. Having said that, this season’s performances have been way below our expectations. We kicked off the season with a typical Valencia scoreline, 4-3, scoring goals freely but also conceding them freely, and when it looked like our defensive problems have been solved with the great pairing of Adil Rami and Victor Ruiz, we surprisingly seem to have a bigger problem on the other side of the pitch. Our inability to score and in most cases even create scoring opportunities has harmed us immensely, and we consequently find ourselves with one foot outside the Champions League. From the 12 matches Valencia has played so far, the team has been able to score more than one goal in two matches only.
It is crystal clear that our poor offensive form is the problem, however, the debate is on where the problem lies specifically. With Soldado’s great goal-conversion rate and with Banega’s brilliant displays, for me there is no debate that the team’s biggest problem lies in the wings. Valencia wingers have been the envy of La Liga and European football for as long as I remember, today this position is the handicap that needs to be addressed and solved urgently. Today’s Los Che wingers are suffering from poor delivery, poor finishing, and lack of innovation.
Pablo will never fulfill his ‘potential’, we have been waiting for too long, and at 26 years of age, he is as good as he currently is and that is not good enough for a team like Valencia. He has previously put in occasional world-class performances in the 09-10 season, but many players get these stints and only a few players build on it, Pablo is not one of the few players. Credit to the Spanish winger, his efforts on the pitch and work-rate are immense, but he is way too predictable running down the wing, and his delivery and finishing are no where near as good as they should be. When Pablo runs out of ideas, you will just see his head down, dribbling down the wing like a headless chicken until he is dispossessed.
With Feghouli breathing down his neck and no Joaquin to cover up for his inconsistency, Pablo needs to rediscover his form urgently, it’s do-or-die for the winger. Emery has already shown signs of lack of patience towards him by not starting him against Athletic Bilbao and not including him in the squad for the Zaragoza match.
Too early to judge on a new signing, but Piatti has yet to justify a penny of the money Valencia spent on him. Whenever Piatti has the ball, he almost certainly falls, one way or another he will fall, and if he doesn’t fall (somehow), he makes nothing of his opportunities. We have seen speed, but we have not seen proper delivery, passing, dribbling, vision, or even proper shots. We all know that Piatti is capable of doing all that from his Almeria days, but we have seen none of that with Valencia yet.
The potential in the young Frenchman is there for Emery to exploit, but he currently seems lost and out of ideas. It appears like Feghouli is not ready to ‘explode’ into the Valencia scene yet, very immature.
Canales has not been tested properly down the wing, though his performances in the playmaker role have been decent. Canales will be sidelined on a long-term injury, so it would be pointless discussing him now.
Dear Emery, Jonas Gonclaves is not a winger, and he never will be.
No excuses this time for Emery, feeling ‘proud’ of the team’s efforts or blaming ‘luck’ for not delivering results will do him no good this time around. With the obvious exception of Barcelona and Real Madrid, the Valencia boss has the most complete squad in La Liga under his command, with the depth to alter tactics and formations that could solve our attacking problems or any other possible problem. Tino Costa and Parejo could be key to any alterations Emery would make, though neither are wingers, both players have good delivery and shot technique, which is what we are in desperate need for. The obvious solution would be for our current wingers to step up, but if they don’t, then it is Emery’s responsibility to find immediate solutions.
A month ago I wouldn’t have imagined myself writing an article on Valencia’s offensive problems. It is hugely disappointing that this problem comes at a time where we seem to have solved our defensive problems, it just feels like we cannot have a complete team with a complete performance. Always good, but never good enough – story of Emery’s teams.