Pellegrino: Sacking was 'unjust'
Former Valencia boss Mauricio Pellegrino has called his sacking "unjust" and criticised club president Manuel Llorente for acting out of anger and fear following Saturday's 5-2 home defeat to Real Sociedad.
Pellegrino was removed from his position an hour after the game, despite having overseen just 21 games since his installation last summer. Valencia currently sit 12th in the La Liga standings, but are just four points from the Champions League spots and have qualified for this season's last 16 of the competition with one game remaining.
Llorente's decision was made during a hastily convened directors' summit on the final whistle, after a game in which Mestalla supporters waved their infamous hankies and vented their frustration at the club's directors and players, but not at Pellegrino.
"I just want to comment on the decision that everyone knows," Pellegrino said on Sunday. "I consider it unjust and I do not agree with it. I believe it is the product of anger and above all fear of the situation, but this is football and this is what happens."
Pellegrino accepts that results such as Saturday's and the previous week's 4-0 defeat at Malaga were unacceptable, but said that given time he could have turned things around - as former coaches Hector Cuper and Rafa Benitez did during his successful time as a Los Che player.
"The situation is just temporary," he said. "The team is four or five points from Champions League places, it has qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League and playing for top spot in the group, has a Copa game against Osasuna to come. The image of the last two games, especially the last game, is just temporary. Obviously it is not what we wanted and I am hurting, but I believe in the work we were doing.
"With Cuper and Benitez I lived through various problems that ended up with the fans feeling proud of their team. I only wish luck to Valencia, I have spent many years here and I hope that in time I have the opportunity to work here again."
Club captain Roberto Soldado, who scored both his side's goals against La Real, said that it was the players, not Pellegrino, who should take the blame for recent disappointments.
"The boss has shown his ability working day to day, but we were not able to bring into games the things we had worked on during the week," Soldado said. "I include myself in this, I am part of the team. When things go badly we look to the side, and not at ourselves. Now we must think about what we can do to improve the situation that we are stuck in. We players feel the most responsible for the situation. We have no doubts that we should have done more to change things. We want to apologise to all the fans for the ridiculous image we have given."
Monday's Spanish media reported that former Athletic, Espanyol and Villarreal coach Ernesto Valverde was the preferred candidate of Llorente and Valencia sporting director Braulio Vazquez to replace Pellegrino, with ex-Spain coach Luis Aragones and Marcelino Garcia Toral also in the running.
Caretaker coach Salvador Gonzalez is to take charge for Wednesday's Champions League group game at Lille. If Valencia better Bayern Munich's result at home to BATE Borisov, they will top the group.