Valencia have fired Miroslav Djukic after just six turbulent months as coach.
• Corrigan: Atletico hammer Valencia
Sunday’s 3-0 defeat at Atletico Madrid was the last straw for Valencia’s hierarchy, with the news being announced at a news conference on Monday afternoon attended by Djukic, club president Amadeo Salvo and recently appointed sporting director Rufete.
Youth team coach Nico Estevez is now set to take charge for Thursday’s Copa del Rey last-32 second leg at home to Nastic, and a new permanent coach may be in charge for Sunday’s final La Liga game of 2013 at home to Real Madrid.
The former Valencia defender said he disagreed with the club’s decision but hoped everyone at Mestalla would now pull together to get the club out of its current mess.
“As a professional it is a decision I respect but do not share,” Djukic said. “I wish Valencia lots of luck, and ask for everyone to be united to move forward."
Former Hercules and Valladolid coach Djukic took charge in June, vowing to put the club back where it belonged among Europe’s elite, but the task soon proved much easier said than done, especially with club captain and last season’s top scorer Roberto Soldado sold to Tottenham.
With results proving disappointing, the Mestalla crowd was calling for the Serbian to go by early October. Salvo then responded with a public vote of confidence, but the message from the club changed especially when Djukic’s former teammate Rufete took over as sporting director in late November.
Valencia are currently ninth in the Primera Division standings but closer in points to the relegation zone than a Champions League qualification spot after just six wins in their first 16 games, which represents their worst start in 15 years. They have fared better in the Europa League, topping their group ahead of Swansea, and on Monday morning drew Dynamo Kiev for the round of 32.
“Results rule in football,” Djukic said at his farewell. “I have not succeeded in getting Valencia back where I said I would when I arrived, and the only one responsible for that is me.”
The new permanent coach will be Valencia’s fifth in little over 18 months, and is unlikely to be given any money to spend in January’s transfer market given the well documented financial issues. Just last week, the club was reportedly put up for sale by its bankers, who had run out of patience with the inability of Salvo and club foundation president Aurelio Martinez to find new investors.