Miroslav Djukic fired as Valencia coach

Valencia fired coach Miroslav Djukic on Monday, a day after a

humbling 3-0 loss at Atletico Madrid that left it in the middle of

the Spanish league standings.

Club president Amadeo Salvo made the announcement that Djukic

would not complete the contract he signed last offseason to guide

the team through June, 2014.

”I don’t share the decision, but I respect it,” Djukic said.

”I desire the best for Valencia and ask for unity so the club can

move forward.”

Djukic, a former Serbia defender who played for Valencia for six

years, took over the team after two impressive seasons at

Valladolid. On arrival, he promised to ”awaken the giant” of a

team that used to be the closest thing to a challenger in the

Spanish league to Barcelona and Real Madrid before the emergence of

Atletico Madrid this season.

But the club never found a replacement for scorer Roberto

Soldado- the most recent talent it has sold off to try and pay down

its debts- and a poor run of only two wins in the last nine rounds

led to Djukic’s downfall.

”We tried it, but in football the results matter above all

else,” Djukic said. ”I am the guilty one. I wasn’t able to take

Valencia back to the top like I said I would at the beginning. At

no moment did I think that my players didn’t want to run hard or

play well. Sometimes the circumstances are too difficult to

change.”

Youth coach Nico Estevez will take over the team as its interim

manager for Thursday’s Copa del Rey match against Nastic Tarragona.

Valencia hosts Real Madrid on Sunday in the league.

Valencia is in ninth place in the league and 10 points from the

top four spots which earn a place in next season’s Champions

League.

Amadeo said that Djukic’s successor should still have the

objective of qualifying for Europe’s top-tier competition.

Valencia has been through three head coaches since Unai Emery’s

four-year run ended in 2012.

Djukic is the third coach to be fired in Spain’s top division

this season, after Osasuna’s Jose Mendilibar and Real Betis’ Pepe

Mel.