The Journeyman | Vamos Valencia: Part 2 – Nice One Sonny, Nice One Son

In the first part of our new adventure in Valencia we picked up a big opening day win and introduced you to our brand new squad, and new signing Neymar.

But our second match was a much more difficult test, away to last years 4th placed finishers Real Sociedad. However, the opening day success clearly worked wonders for the lads with Jovane Cabral in particular continuing his bright start.

Cabral pounced after Carlos Soler’s blocked shot bounced to him to thump home an opener after 6 minutes. We were all over Sociedad, who didn’t even have a shot until the 40th minute, but we lost Neymar through injury after 22 minutes. Then two minutes before half-time Cabral went down the right and squared the ball for Son Heung-Min, playing in a lone striker role, to get his first goal of our reign.

As luck would have it, Sociedad went down the other end to pull one back through Mikel Oyarzabal, and I presumed FM was about to screw us over. However, I told the lads not to get complacent and Sociedad offered nothing, then Son went and finished things off with 6 minutes remaining.

Six teams had won their first two games, including Real Madrid who’d scored 12 goals courtesy of battering Mallorca 10-0!

The La Liga fixture scheduler was having a bit of a mare, as we had two more away matches, then three home games, a home and away game, then three away and three at home again. Very strange.

Key deadline day signing

However, all of that preceded transfer deadline day, on which we sold a youngster for £3.5 million and sold Marco Senesi for £20 million to Manchester United. That was because we got a deal over the line for a young Brazilian defender I’d been chasing for at least 3 years.

I think Itamar Junges could be an absolute world beater and we snapped him up for just £9.75 million from Gremio. And, immediately after his debut for us, he went and made his debut for Brazil and scored on his second cap! Strangely, which I realised going into his debut, he is the only regen in our starting eleven… in 2025. That’s pretty unacceptable.

That next game was at Espanyol, where we started poorly by conceding a penalty inside 4 minutes that Sergio Gomez converted. We struggled to get going in the first half so I asked for more at half-time and it worked, as Cabral again laid the ball in to Son to equalise.

And it stayed that way until late on when I demanded more and the two former Sporting boys teamed up for a winner. Rodrigo Fernandes collected the ball from a throw-in on the left and swung a cross to the far post for Cabral to poke home a 95th minute winner. And that took us to 3 wins out of 3!

Another way game followed as we went to Real Betis, facing our former Sporting goalkeeper Luís Maximiano. It was a pretty quiet game but we again had what it took thanks to – you guessed it – Cabral putting a low cross in for Son to steer home at the near post. A 1-0 win to take us to 4 out of 4! However, so had Real, for whom Kylian Mbappe had bagged 8 goals in 3 games.

But we came crashing back down to earth with a 1-0 defeat at home to Mallorca, in which they scored with their first shot from a counter attack and we then didn’t get a highlight despite having 15 shots. Very odd… But, we bounced back with the returning Neymar laying on a goal for Cabral then scoring his first Valencia goal to lead us to a 2-1 win at home to Celta Vigo.

Then a third consecutive home game brought another win as we edged past Real Sporting with a 1-0 win thanks to captain Carlos Soler’s long-range strike, while Son missed a second-half penalty.

We then went to Real Madrid and won a penalty inside 15 seconds, which Neymar converted. But they went and scored with their first two shots, both from Paul Pogba, to lead 2-1 after 9 minutes. They added two more Diogo Jota, and all of the goals made me realise how badly we need a new goalkeeper, because David Soria is terrible. But it also just shows the massive gulf in class.

But we got back to winning ways with a narrow 1-0 win over Sevilla, in which Son nicked it with an 87th-minute winner after substitute Mariano had missed a penalty and Cabral missed a host of chances – which may put Juventus boss Pep Guardiola, who was at the match to watch him.

We then went away to Girona and that man Son was the hero. He latched onto a loose pass and raced through to open the scoring after 4 minutes then nodded in from a Neymar corner 11 minutes later and we eased off for a 2-0 win. That takes him to a strong return of 7 goals in 10 matches – nice one Sonny, nice one Son!

The day before, Real put 9 past Osasuna with Mbappe bagging 4 in a game for the second time this season! They’ve scored 41 times already this season and are looking pretty unstoppable. But after 10 matches in Spain we sit in third behind Real and Barca with 8 wins and 2 defeats, with a 7 point buffer back to Leganes in 4th.

Europa League apathy

Another positive of leaving Sporting was getting away from the Champions League for at least one season. We were drawn in a Europa League with Schalke, Slavia Prague and a familiar foe in Vitoria de Setúbal.

We opened up at home to Schalke and won 3-1 with Soler, Mohamed Ihattaren and substitute Mariano, who ended an 11 hour scoring drought, all scoring their first goals of the season. But things did not go well from there.

Game two was away to Setúbal, who bizarrely now play at the brand new Jose Mourinho Arena. Mourinho, who is still Spurs manager, didn’t play for them and was only their Under 18s manager for a year… so, bit of a weird one! And for some reason we were embarrassingly bad. I gave loads of players a rest, but still getting battered 4-0 was unacceptable. Then we drew 1-1 at home to Slavia, having rested 10 players – I’m not too fussed about the Europa League.

Join us next time as we push ahead in our first season with Valencia and see if the team can build on a solid start to La Liga.

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