Valencia manager Nuno downplays his role with rejuvenated team

Valencia manager Nuno Santo has downplayed the role he has played with the rejuvenated La Liga side this season, stating he is only one part of a team where no one person is more important than the next.

Last year, Valencia missed out on European qualification for the first time since the 2004-05 season. Nuno was brought in to replace Antonio Pizzi after previously managing Rio Ave from 2012-14, where he orchestrated the club’s second place finish in both the Portuguese Cup and Portuguese League Cup in only his second season in charge.

Before the start of the 2014-15 campaign, Valencia’s goal was clearly defined to the manager, club officials wanted the team back in Europe next season.

So far, Nuno has directed Los Che to fourth place in La Liga and they have already handed defeats to league powerhouses, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid.

During an interview with the Spanish publication Marca, Nuno was asked if he wanted to become a household name like Carlo Ancelotti, Diego Simeone or Pep Guardiola?

“No, nothing of the sort, that’s way too pretentious,” the Valencia boss humbly stated. “I want to be a part of a team, not somebody that dictates; I want to guide more than manage.”

“It’s not ‘Nuno’s Valencia’, everyone is a part of it.”

“Football and playing together can’t be separated, they go hand in hand.”

Valencia have been one of many bright spots in La Liga this season. Los Che have continually been the toughest fixture in Spain, especially when they are playing at home in the Mestalla.

In regards to titles, Valencia is the fifth-most successful club in Spanish football behind Real Madrid, Barcelona, Athletic Bilbao and Atletico Madrid; and Nuno’s goal is to continue that success through the influence of his style of play.

“There are two situations in a game: having the ball or not having the ball,” the manager told Marca. “If you only think about having the ball, you’ll end up losing it and you won’t know what to do.”

“Winning possession is a completely different thing to the opposition simply losing it. If you work hard on that, you’ll know where, when and who is going to get the ball back.”

“The idea was new to the players. The other day I spoke about the best team of all-time, which only functioned when it had the ball and in the end it’s hard to have success like that.”

It is believed Nuno was referring to the tiki-taka style of play which was the ideology of Pep Guardiola at Barcelona.

The Valencia boss caused a brief storm a few weeks ago when he told Spanish radio that Guardiola’s style of play could eventually “harm” football.

But when quizzed further about his statement, Nuno told Marca: “I wasn’t talking about a specific team, or Guardiola. They were great to watch. But it [their style of play] gave the rest of people the idea that football was only about that, and it has so many other elements.”

This weekend, Valencia will take on Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon – a match which could slingshot Los Che ahead of Diego Simeone’s side into third place on the La Liga table.

Programming note: Atletico Madrid vs. Valencia will be shown LIVE on Sunday starting at 2:55pm EST in beIN SPORTS en español.

The game will be shown live on beIN SPORTS for viewers in the US. If you don’t have beIN SPORTS, click on any of these streaming services (all include free trials) to watch the game (US only). Don’t know which one to choose? Read our comparison guide.

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