Even for an infamously drama-filled club like Valencia, the decision to sack Marcelino this week, coming off back-to-back Champions League qualifications and a triumphant run to the Copa del Rey title last season, felt notably crazy from the outside. So imagine how absolutely insane Marcelino himself must feel, believing, as he revealed today at a press conference, that the reason he was fired was precisely because he won that long-awaited trophy back in May.
In his comments to the media, as reported by ESPN, Marcelino made perfectly clear what he believes to be the cause of him losing his job after two very good seasons: “I’m absolutely certain that what triggered this [sacking] was the Copa.”
For as stupid as that simple fact would seem on its own—to fire a manager not only after he did what a manager should do by winning a trophy, but because of it—it becomes exponentially dumber when you hear Marcelino explain what exactly it was about winning that trophy that pissed off the club’s owner, Peter Lim:
“During the season, we received direct messages from certain people that we had to reject the Copa [in order to concentrate on La Liga].
“But the fans wanted to fight for it. The players too and so did the coaching staff. Who would have told me that this would trigger this situation?”
You could maybe see an owner getting upset about a manager prioritizing a cup run over league play if the team was at risk of getting relegated or failing to qualify for one of those all-important, highly lucrative spots in European competition. But remember: Valencia still managed to finish in the Champions League places even while going all-in for the Copa, and they won the damn trophy too! The first piece of silverware in 11 years! How the hell could Lim be mad about that?
Maybe Marcelino is mistaken, and what raised Lim’s ire wasn’t the bringing joy to Los Che’s legion of fans with just about the only title a team of Valencia’s status has any real shot of hoisting. But from some of the other anecdotes he shared in the presser, it sure seems like his interpretation is right:
“We never received any congratulatory messages from the club owner [Peter Lim] after winning the Copa,” Marcelino said.
“When I went to Singapore on July 19, he [Lim] only congratulated me for the Champions League qualification and not for the Copa. You can imagine my surprise.”
As maddening as it must be to get fired for doing your job too well, Marcelino, who will be totally fine, isn’t the one to worry about. The club itself is the party most at risk here, being run by a dummy who knows nothing but thinks he knows best, who covets nothing as much as he does a team of yes men who will follow directives handed down by him and his Svengali, agent Jorge Mendes, who would ax a title-winning manager for winning that title and replace him with a presumably more amenable nobody.
Savor those Copa-winning memories, Valencia fans. It probably won’t happen again any time soon.