#‎LimGoHome‬: What has gone wrong at Valencia?

They call him the white knight, the lucky charm or simply the man who saved Valencia Football Club. When Peter Lim stepped inside the Mestalla Stadium on Monday night, he commanded attention.
PHOTO: Lazaro De La Pena, Valencia CF

There was to be no happy New Year for Valencia as their miserable season continued with a 4-1 thrashing at home to Celta Vigo late Tuesday to leave Los Che almost certainly out of the Copa del Rey.

Valencia are also in search of a coach after Cesare Prandelli's shock resignation last week and sit outside the relegation zone only on goal difference.

Here, AFP Sports looks at what has gone wrong at one of the former giants of Spanish football.

Singaporean owner Peter Lim's takeover in 2014 was supposed to herald a new era for Valencia after years of financial hardship, in part caused by the Spanish property crash whilst they were building a new stadium and training ground.

Lim's millions and connections to Portuguese super agent Jorge Mendes promised to clear the club's vast debt, complete the move to a new stadium and offer the financial muscle needed to compete for trophies.

Read also: Valencia skipper says 'Peter Lim is turning us into a great club'

Instead, his reign has overseen a collapse in standards graver than any Valencia fan could have ever imagined.

The money Lim has invested in the transfer market has largely been unwisely spent, whilst over 100 million euros of talent was sold at the start of the season to compensate for a lack of European football.

Tellingly, after saving most of their wrath for the players in recent months, the fans turned decisively on Lim - who very rarely attends games in Spain - on Wednesday, calling for him to sell the club.

Prandelli's departure leaves Valencia without a permanent boss for the fourth time in just over a year, provoking not just instability but poorer results on the field with every passing coach as well.

Nuno Espirito Santo's sacking in November 2015 just months after leading the club back into the Champions League kicked off the merry-go-round that has also seen Gary Neville and Pako Ayestaran come and go.

All four had no prior managerial experience in La Liga and Lim's critics believe he has put his personal relationships - particularly in the hiring of Neville - ahead of what is best for the club.

Prandelli tried to light the fires of an underperforming squad by ranting that anyone who didn't have the passion to play for the club could get out ahead of his penultimate game in charge at Real Sociedad.

His reward for doing so was to go 2-0 down inside 25 minutes.

Read also: Kim Lim on Valencia FC fan slamming: 'I told myself, enough of getting bullied'

Midfielder Dani Parejo also confirmed many fans' fears over their star players' lack of commitment when he was filmed drunk in a nightclub during the winter break.

Another close ally of Lim, Mendes, has been central to Valencia's recruitment in recent seasons, but has served up a series of expensive mistakes.

Mendes-represented centre-backs Eliaquim Mangala and Ezequiel Garay were brought in just before the transfer deadline at the start of the season because two of the Portuguese's other clients, 25 million euro recruit Aymen Abdennour and Ruben Vezo, now on loan at Granada, failed to make the grade.

Moreover, those who have impressed have been quickly sold on such as now Barcelona midfielder Andre Gomes.

Peter Lim hailed as Valencia football club's saviour

  • The Singaporean has come to be dubbed a lucky charm because Valencia won five of the six matches he watched, including a 2-1 beating of mighty Real Madrid in January.
  • The low-profile billionaire and former "remisier king", who shuns publicity at home and almost never gives interviews, gets rock-star treatment in Valencia.
  • Last Oct 25, after his purchase of the ailing 95-year-old club was sealed, the street leading to the stadium's main grandstand was lined with thousands of supporters who twirled their scarves and chanted his name.
  • Last week, his first comments to The Straits Times as Valencia owner were widely covered in Spanish dailies, which featured pictures of him and his wife, and mentioned on television and radio.
  • His 23-year-old socialite daughter, Kim, is recognised on the streets of Valencia and fans go up to her with photo requests.
  • His rags-to-riches story as the fishmonger's son who made good was fascinating, but Valencia players and staff did not know what to expect, given how some billionaire club owners in Europe brandish the axe as soon as they appear.
  • German centre-back Shkrodan Mustafi said: "Mr Lim never came over and said, 'You must win La Liga.' He knows what's possible and what's not.
  • He didn't come in and sack a lot of people immediately.
  • In person, he is really relaxed and he enjoys being a part of this team. As for the players, it is always an honour to have him visit us in the dressing room."
  • Mr Ng Ser Miang, head of the International Olympic Committee's finance commission and a Valencia board member, who has known Mr Lim for two decades, said: "Valencia is one of the oldest clubs in Spain. And a Singaporean has put the country on the world football map by owning a piece of European football history.
  • "You can see that the fans and the city's people really welcome and respect Peter. That is because of his commitment to Valencia."
  • Estimated by Forbes to be worth US$2 billion (S$2.7 billion), Mr Lim turns 62 this year. His home in Singapore is the entire 11-storey Abelia condominium, near Orchard Road.
  • He counts as friends Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo, former Manchester United favourite David Beckham, super agent Jorge Mendes, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton and United's Class of 92 such as Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and Neville brothers Gary and Phil.

Valencia's upheaval has coincided with a period of unparallelled success for Atletico Madrid to supplant the former as Spanish football's third force.

Atletico have reaped the rewards of stability brought by Diego Simeone's five-year reign as coach having had a similar record of ditching bosses before the Argentine's arrival.

Sevilla have also usurped Valencia with a hat-trick of Europa League titles in the past three years.

Meanwhile, even Valencia's neighbours Villarreal have shown what can be achieved with fewer resources and better organisation by consistently challenging for European places.

 

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