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How Not To Run A Club: Valencia CF And Peter Lim

Javi Gracia's Valencia fell to a 2-1 defeat against Granada on Wednesday, the side's second consecutive loss. 

Valencia is now without a win in the league since the shock 4-1 victory over champion Real Madrid on Nov. 8. Wednesday's result saw Valencia, which finished ninth last season after back-to-back top-four finishes, fall to 17th. It has been a truly wretched campaign for Gracia's side, though little of the blame for that can be laid at his feet.

Owner Peter Lim has turned Valencia into one of the worst-run clubs in LaLiga. Gracia was forced to watch on helplessly as Lim sanctioned the cut-rate sales of several key players in the latest transfer window, citing loss of revenue due to coronavirus. The new manager was told upon joining that any of his players could be sold, but apparently fought to hold on to José Gayà. 

Shortly after midfielder Francis Coquelin was sold to rival Villarreal for just $7.15m, the club hierarchy essentially forced captain Dani Parejo to follow suit. Supporters were in shock when Parejo, a loyal servant to Valencia through nearly 400 games and several managerial reigns, was ushered out the door unceremoniously to join the club's archrival on a free transfer. Parejo made clear that he did not want to leave, but not long after his departure all traces of his legacy were removed from the club store in one final display of pettiness, as the midfielder had clashed with Lim's Meriton Holdings following the sacking of manager Marcelino. 

Ferran Torres, widely considered one of Spain's most promising prospects, was allowed to join Pep Guardiola at Manchester City for just $25.3 million. He was followed out the door by Rodrigo, who signed for Leeds on a $33 million deal. Each of the pair had provided a significant chunk of Valencia's goals the previous season — four apiece in a relatively low-scoring campaign. 

Lim finished off the gutting of his team's midfield with the sale in late October of Geoffrey Kondogbia to Atlético Madrid for $16.5 million. Gracia now has just three senior midfielders to call on. He has been forced to turn to youngsters to fill out several spots in the squad, and while some have showed promise it is unfair to have to rely on them so heavily.

Even after selling so many vital members of the team, the club had to resort to handing out IOU's in place of wages to players. That development, along with the lack of promised replacement signings, left Gracia and the players demoralized and angry. 

Gracia went so far as to offer up his resignation to the board in October. 

“I know more than anyone that the club should be stable and economically viable and that there had to be some departures, but I was promised that we would sign some players and that did not happen," he said.

With the winter transfer window now fast approaching, he finds himself uncertain of what is to come. 

He is well aware that the squad needs an infusion of talent, but has been given no indication from the hierarchy he will be allowed to make signings and has no idea what potential outgoings may be approaching either.

"Everything we say is going to sound like an excuse," the manager said. "The academy boys are young, they need their time, mistakes, to grow. ... It is not my responsibility to know about the players who are going to leave — that I do not know — or those that may come — that I do not know. I haven't had a meeting, and I honestly don't think I'm going to have one."

If the Lim family's objective over the summer of 2020 was to infuriate the club's supporters, their efforts were a resounding success. Kim Lim, Peter's daughter, captioned a now-deleted Instagram post: "Some Valencia CF fans are scolding and cursing at my family and I. Don’t they get it? The club is ours and we can do anything we want with it ... no one can say anything.” 

Gracia's side has secured just three wins in the league so far and in its last 14 in all competitions has won three, lost six and drawn five. Given Lim's propensity for sacking managers since taking ownership of the club, it would not be a shock to see Gracia dismissed before season's end. It must be stressed, though, that the mess Lim finds his club in now is largely of his own making. Without strengthening the squad, Valencia could face a real fight just to avoid relegation.

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