Voro in for Valencia to replace Koeman

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The Independent Online

The new Valencia coach Salvador Gonzalez Voro has said he is willing to allow players discarded by his predecessor Ronald Koeman back into the squad.

A former player at the club, Voro was given the job on Monday following the sacking of Koeman. One of his first tasks has been to build bridges with club stalwarts such as David Albelda, Santiago Canizares and Miguel Angel Angulo. In December Koeman, with the backing of the majority shareholder Juan Soler, had told them they would not play again this season.

"They are part of the 25-strong squad and will play if I think they are in the mental and physical condition to do so," Voro said yesterday.

"They haven't played competitive football for four months and have suffered a difficult situation. I don't want a sporting decision to be interpreted as a political one. I want to make it clear I am free to make my decision on this."

Voro has a huge task in front of him and has to lift a divided squad's morale. They are only two points above the relegation zone, with five games left to play, and face a particularly tough run-in.

Valencia have home games against their direct rivals for the drop, Osasuna and Real Zaragoza, and Champions League-chasing Atletico Madrid. Away from the Mestalla they have a city derby against Levante and a trip to face the Champions League semi-finalists Barcelona.

"Because of the situation we are in, the job will probably be more that of a psychologist than a coach," he added.

Koeman was sacked six months into a two-and-a-half-year contract late on Monday, 24 hours after the side suffered a 5-1 mauling against Athletic Bilbao at San Mames.

"I am going proud of having won a title as important as the King's Cup and want to point out I have gained an experience but have lost something I was very enthusiastic about," Koeman said in a statement.

The side won their seventh King's Cup last Wednesday, beating Getafe 3-1 in the final, but that was a rare highlight in a turbulent tenure at Valencia.

Koeman arrived at the beginning of November to replace Quique Sanchez Flores, who was sacked with the side struggling in the Champions League but only four points behind the leaders Real Madrid in the domestic table.

The team then went into freefall, finishing bottom of their Champions League group, and slipped out of the title race with four wins and six draws from 22 matches. They are now 33 points adrift of Real.

Koeman controversially sidelined the captain Albelda, goalkeeper Canizares and winger Angulo, and the club spent €20m (£16m) on two new midfielders, Ever Banega and Hedwiges Maduro, in the January transfer window, but the side's form failed to improve.

Disgruntled fans had been calling for Koeman to go, and chants against him could be heard as the team paraded the trophy at the end of last week's final.

After Monday's board meeting, Valencia's , president, Agustin Morera, made the costly decision to sack not only Koeman and his assistants, but also the sports director Miguel Angel Ruiz and technical secretary Antonio Fernandez.

Former player Juan Sanchez was appointed with a brief to start planning for next season, while Voro was put in charge of the team until the end of the campaign. As far as a long-term occupant for the dugout is concerned, Spanish media have linked the Racing Santander coach Marcelino with the post.

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