Valencia victory fails to lift doom and gloom
It was the Cup final that had it all.
A match ball that was parachuted in, the kind of noise that makes your ears bleed, enough orange wigs to keep Cilla Black in hair for a decade, and Chikilcuatre dancing the ChikiChiki on the CalderÃÂ³n pitch - a deranged hybrid of La Macarena, The Time Warp and The Chicken Song performed by the bloke who came second in the Royston Vasey Elvis competition. Probably.
It had a couple of great goals, a blistering start, and fireworks that shuddered the earth and lit up the sky. It had everything. Except a roof that actually kept the rain off and the result that everyone (well, nearly everyone) wanted.
Melted by their desperately unlucky collapse against Bayern Munich, by the way they have built a side from young hopefuls and old cast-offs on a budget not much bigger than RaÃÂºlÃ¢ÂÂs annual wages and by their remarkable lack of arrogance, pretty much the whole of Spain wanted Getafe to win.
Even the King. Asked for his favourite on the morning of the game, Juan Carlos responded: Ã¢ÂÂthe one that lost [against Bayern] has to win.Ã¢ÂÂ They didnÃ¢ÂÂt. For the second year running Getafe are beaten finalists. Valencia were two goals up within 11 minutes, through Mata and former Getafe centre-back Alexis, and spent the rest of the match trying to defend the lead, diving and hoofing and acting and whinging and time-wasting their way beyond midnight.
Alexis bags the second, consigning former club to more misery
Getafe pulled it back to 2-1 just before half time when the referee waved away a blatant penalty only to change his mind when he saw the linesman frantically flagging - a decision that had ValenciaÃ¢ÂÂs players descending upon him like flies round a turd. And with Getafe desperately seeking a way back into the game - Braulio hit the post and Granero hit the bar - Valencia had one more shot and scored one more goal to make it 3-1, Morientes heading in a rebound. Ã¢ÂÂGetafe too are winners,Ã¢ÂÂ insisted ASÃ¢ÂÂs editor Alfredo RelaÃÂ±o, while ValenciaÃ¢ÂÂs fans chanted Ã¢ÂÂGetafe! GetafeÃ¢ÂÂ as their players collected runners-up medals.
But before the game, GetafeÃ¢ÂÂs David Belenguer had insisted: Ã¢ÂÂwe donÃ¢ÂÂt want to be the team that everyone likes; we want to be a team that wins something,Ã¢ÂÂ and the players slumped to the floor on the final whistle, the fans departing in sadness (or maybe that was just because they wanted to catch the last metro home, what with those geniuses at the Federation pencilling the game in for 10pm.) Ã¢ÂÂThe tension was too much,Ã¢ÂÂ admitted Laudrup. But if Getafe were not too happy, you canÃ¢ÂÂt help feel that Valencia werenÃ¢ÂÂt as pleased as they should have been either, despite the wild, vindicatory celebrations of the fans and the players, despite their coachÃ¢ÂÂs justified insistence that Ã¢ÂÂValencia have not won the cup since 1999.Ã¢ÂÂ The club announced after the game that there would be no formal celebrations - no open topped bus, no comedy t-shirts, no offering to the virgin, no parading the cup round the local council.
Talk about undermining the one thing that could unite you. Valencia are still in crisis, and their coach is still teetering dangerously near the edge of the abyss, his players queuing up behind him to give him a nudge. Ronald Koeman wore a tie the same colour as his hair and the expression of a man worn down - both quietly satisfied and also quietly furious. His side had knocked out Betis, AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid and Barcelona but the cup is one thing, the league something completely different.
Koeman: Cup success unlikely to save his job at Mestalla
Since he took over they are the worst side in La Liga and he has become statistically the worst coach in the clubÃ¢ÂÂs history. When he took over they were four points off the top, they are now just five off the relegation zone - 29 from the top. He could point to the cup success as a sign that, given time, he can get it right. His detractors could point to it as evidence that when the players do it their way, not his, Valencia are a good side, Ã¢ÂÂprovingÃ¢ÂÂ just what a dire manager he is.
Part of him would have been fuming at the fact that his players show no interest in making the same effort week in, week out in La Liga but there was no doubt who the fans blamed, reacting to the final whistle not by chanting Ã¢ÂÂcampeones, campeones, oÃÂ©, oÃÂ©, oÃÂ©!Ã¢ÂÂ but Ã¢ÂÂKoeman, go now!Ã¢ÂÂ What should have been a great night, a huge success, instead had journalists scrambling to find out when a Copa del Rey winner last went down (they never have).
What should have brought joy just showed once again how miserable a club Valencia are; no celebration, no ceasefire, however momentary. The three ostracised players, CaÃÂ±izares, Albelda and ÃÂngulo, werenÃ¢ÂÂt even invited to the game despite boasting over 1000 club games between them. While the smiles on club officials were forced, the congratulations to Koeman offered through gritted teeth. What should have brought unity instead underlined just how divided they are, just how isolated Koeman is. The hugs were half hearted, no one would ratify his position, the team gathered behind a giant Toblerone declaring Ã¢ÂÂwinners 2008Ã¢ÂÂ without their coach, and when he left the stadium, he did so alone, boarding an empty team bus, fiddling with his phone and staring into space looking for all the world like a condemned man not a cup winner.