Valencia said Tuesday their Dutch coach Ronald Koeman is leaving the post after a series of disastrous results that have left the former Spanish champions hovering above the relegation zone.
Koeman and Valencia reached an “amicable agreement” to end his contract, which runs until 2010, after less than six months in the job, the club said in a brief statement.
The sports newspaper Mundo Deportivo said the departure of Koeman and his assistants, Jose Mari Bakero and Toni Bruins, would cost Valencia around 10 million euros (16 million dollars).
The club took the decision late Monday after a board meeting that lasted over 12 hours, and despite the club winning the Spanish Cup last week.
Salvador Gonzales, a former Valencia player, will take over as coach on a temporary basis, Spanish newspapers said.
Valencia, arguably the third biggest club in Spain after Real Madrid and Barcelona, have slumped to 15th place and are now just two points away from the relegation zone after one win in their last 10 La Liga outings.
On Sunday, they suffered a humiliating 5-1 defeat to Athletic Bilbao.
The 2002 and 2004 Spanish champions, who have also reached the Champions League final twice in the last decade, were in contention to qualify for next year’s Champions League when Koeman took over last November.
Koeman caused uproar during the winter transfer window by discarding three Valencia icons – Spanish internationals Santiago Canizares, Miguel Angel Angulo and David Albelda – and telling them to find new clubs.
The move alienated many of Valencia’s fanatical supporters who have been chanting for him to resign or be sacked ever since, even during Wednesday’s Cup final when they beat Getafe 3-1.
The Cup win ensures that Valencia will be in the UEFA Cup next season but they could be in the unwanted position of being only the second team from a lower tier of Spanish football to ever play in Europe.
A messy recent court battle in which former captain Albelda sued the club for constructive dismissal, and which saw some players appear as witnesses, also did nothing to help Koeman’s image despite the court finding in favour of the club.
Valencia have only been out of the top flight four times since La Liga’s inception in 1928 – the first three years and the 1986-87 season.
They have won the Spanish league six times and also four European titles, most recently the 2004 UEFA Cup.
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