MADRID (Reuters) - Valencia were pipped to top spot in Champions League Group F by Bayern Munich but Wednesday’s 1-0 victory at Lille could help the club revive their stuttering La Liga campaign, according to interim coach Salvador Gonzalez.
Last weekend’s 5-2 defeat at home to Real Sociedad prompted unpopular president Manuel Llorente to sack coach Mauricio Pellegrino after only half a season in charge and Ernesto Valverde was given a contract until the end of the campaign.
Llorente’s decision to fire Argentine Pellegrino, a former Valencia player well-liked by the fans, was seen by some critics as too hasty and came amid reports of a rift between team mates of different nationalities.
However, with the knockout round of Europe’s elite club competition not starting until February, Valencia have a chance to start afresh under Valverde and focus on improving on their current league position of 12th, with only 18 points from 14 matches.
Gonzalez, who took charge of the team for the game in France before Valverde assumes full command, said he believed beating Lille could set a positive precedent that the players can build on for Saturday’s La Liga game at Osasuna (2100 GMT) and beyond.
“Today’s match was all about reversing the team’s fortunes, putting the recent bad results behind us,” Gonzalez told UEFA.com.
“It was an opportunity for the players to demonstrate that they can compete and reverse the situation,” he added. “The players have countered their situation with a positive attitude.”
Valverde led Olympiakos Piraeus to a Greek league and Cup double last season and has extensive experience in La Liga.
He had stints at Athletic Bilbao and Espanyol, who he guided to the UEFA Cup final in 2007 where they lost to Sevilla. (Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Patrick Johnston)