Celades aims to move on from Marcelino sacking unrest

LONDON • After winning his first game since taking charge last week, Albert Celades said Valencia had to draw a line under the controversy surrounding the shock firing of his predecessor Marcelino if they are to achieve their ambitions in La Liga and the Champions League this season.

Rodrigo's strike enabled the Spanish side to shake off a week of upheaval behind the scenes to clinch a 1-0 Champions League Group H win at Chelsea on Tuesday night, and the Spaniard was hopeful that "from now on, we start to talk about football and the rumblings about external things end".

Angry fans have taken to social media to voice their displeasure, using the trending hashtag #LimGoHome to protest against Singapore owner Peter Lim after Marcelino, who won last term's King's Cup and led the team to Champions League qualification, was sacked on Sept 11.

The players have also been on a self-imposed media blackout after several of them expressed their unhappiness with the decision on Instagram and Twitter - and they did not speak to reporters following the 5-2 loss to Barcelona on Saturday and before the Chelsea game.

However, Valencia captain Dani Parejo was the first to break his silence after the victory at Stamford Bridge, throwing his support behind Celades as "our aim is do the same, which is to win games and be with the boss all the way".

The Spain midfielder also explained the media boycott, claiming it was a "difficult situation for everyone, and the best thing was to stay quiet and go out and play".

In response, Celades welcomed Parejo's stance, claiming he "never felt alone here, and have always felt I have the support of the players".

Valencia's Rodrigo celebrating after scoring the winning goal in the 1-0 Champions League win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night.
Valencia's Rodrigo celebrating after scoring the winning goal in the 1-0 Champions League win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

The former Real Madrid midfielder added: "I hope we can look ahead with today's victory. It was so difficult and took so much effort from the players.

"When you get to a situation like this, competing in the Champions League in such a competitive world, you want to hold onto it with all your might and not let go.

"The players showed their commitment. We should be proud of the commitment the squad showed to the club and to the fans."

Frank Lampard, however, was left to rue "a harsh lesson" in what was his managerial bow for the Blues in Europe.

Chelsea squandered the opportunity to pull level when substitute Ross Barkley blasted a second-half spot kick over the bar, and also lost Mason Mount to an ankle injury, leaving him a major doubt for the Premier League game with Liverpool on Sunday.

"That's the reality of losing a game at home," Lampard said.

"It makes those (next two) games more important, particularly as they come back-to-back away from home.

"There are league games in the meantime, but we need a strong focus on those games to try to get a result in one of those two games before we make it really tough for ourselves."

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2019, with the headline 'Celades aims to move on from Marcelino sacking unrest'. Print Edition | Subscribe