Shaking up the backroom staff
Only a day into the job and it’s become obvious not only do I need heads for the first team squad, but I need even more for the sparse looking backroom staff. As things stand, we are short at least 3 coaches, and only have 3 scouts on our books, not the support setup I need to help me try and rebuild, whilst I also really don’t fancy some of the current personnel being the right fit for the way I want to play and develop the club either. A pool of staff with a wealth of experience looking for new opportunities gives me a perfect opportunity to get some key personnel through the door without too many complications, although with some big names out there I’m not the only one trying to sell them my project as a perfect career move for all parties.
Having agonized overnight, and following a really difficult phone call, I had decided Zigor Aranalde was not going to be the right man to help me take the club the way I wanted it, and so it was with a heavy heart I let him know that we would be letting him go, having only recently arrived at the club himself with Javi Gracia. While nervous how the fans may react to that decision, I am hoping that the arrival of Dutch legend Marco Van Basten as the new right hand man will help alleviate some of the negativity. The former Milan striker needs no introduction, having been one of the legends of the game during his playing career, most memorably for Ajax and Milan. Since hanging up his boots, he has also earned a reputation and plenty of hands on experience in coaching, having managed the Dutch national team, Ajax, Heerenveen, and AZ, before his last role seeing him return to the Dutch set up as assistant. With his experience at the top table in Europe, as well as his footballing philosophy, Marco is an absolutely perfect fit for what I hope to achieve with the club, and so I was delighted he agreed to join.
With a new assistant in place so quickly, rebuilding the back room setup felt far less daunting. My aim had always been to build a staff setup who shared the same visions, the same way of thinking, and ultimately wanting to develop the club into one of the best in Europe. Wanting to start the rebuild from the top down, it was a massive bonus managing to tie up the arrival of Antero Henrique as Director of Football. Hailing from Portugal, Henrique first made his mark as DoF at Porto, before spending the last couple of seasons with Paris St. Germain. At 52 years old, Antero brings both the experience and contacts to enable him to hit the ground running with the club, something that will be a great asset with our own aims. Another big coup also sees the arrival of Filippo Galli, to head up our Youth Development. Although I want to shift the ethos away from being a selling club, there is no doubt Valencia has been a production line for talent in recent years, and I wanted the right man in place to help us fully harness and realise that talent for the benefit of the club. Galli is well known throughout Europe, having been a key player for AC Milan in his heyday, with stints at Brescia and Watford among others during the twilight of his career. Galli then became part of the back room set up at Milan, first earning recognition as U-18 manager then Assistant Manager, before heading up the Youth Development for the Rossineri. Again, like Henrique, he is another who will be able to fall straight into his new role with minimal difficulty.
The final arrival in the senior leadership team is 38 year old Irishman Darragh Connolly, who comes in as the Head of Sports Science, having recently held a similar role with Juventus for the last 5 years. He will be joined in the new Sports Science department by Roberto Sassi, who joins for his second stint at the club having previously been part of the coaching setup under Claudio Ranieri, also undertaking roles with Chelsea, Fiorentina, Parma and Juventus among others, and Nuno Matias, who makes the switch to join the staff from Benfica. At just 36 years old, Matias began coaching with Sporting before moving across the capital to join Benfica.
Heading up the Scouting team, I brought in another man I knew very well, as former Arsenal head scout Steve Rowley joined the club. Having been chief scout at Arsenal since way back in 1996, Steve’s ability to recognize both talent and value in the game is second to none, and will be a perfect fit for what we are hoping to achieve in the transfer market as we look to develop the club moving forwards. He’s joined in the scouting team by a former player he knows well, in Gilles Grimandi, who will give us some knowledge and opportunity to pick up some of the younger French talent, in a similar mould to the legendary Arsene Wenger. Former Danish legend Søren Lerby, another with an exceptional playing career and knowledge of Europe, joins to head up our Scandinavian recruitment, while Pini Zahavi, Josep Boada, Giuseppe Dello Russo and Franz-Josef Reckels also agree to come on board.
Perhaps more excitingly, club legend Vicente also agrees to return to the club in the capacity of scout. The former Spanish international, who was born in the city, was part of the superstar team at the turn of the decade, enjoying success in both La Liga and Europe with the club, before finishing his career with Brighton. Having previously been part of the scouting team during a previous regime, I was delighted to be able to offer him the opportunity to return, not least because his presence around the club will be a boost for us all. Joining him will be another legend, David Villa, who is taking his first steps into coaching with our Under-19s set up. Like Vicente, David is another player who enjoyed some of his finest moments in a Valencia shirt, earning him a mainstay spot in the Spanish national team. A glittering career then saw him move to Barcelona, before heading to Atlético. David finished his career with spells in Australia with Melbourne City, USA with NYCFC and Japan with Vissel Kobe. Again, having him around the club will only be a bonus.Share this: