Madrid (AFP) – Valencia’s new coach Javi Gracia on Friday criticised the club’s transfer policy, saying it has left the team “weakened” and unable to achieve their goals this season. 

Gracia was only appointed coach in July but already appears to be on the war path with Valencia’s unpopular owner Peter Lim, who has sacked two coaches in the past year.

“I am sure we can compete but I feel sad,” said Gracia. “The club is not going to be able to demand from us what it should demand from us because we are Valencia, because of our history and our potential. That is the pain I have.” 

After finishing a disappointing ninth in La Liga last term, Gracia would have hoped to try and push the team closer to Champions League qualification.

But he has witnessed something of a firesale this summer, with several key players sold and not a single new signing made ahead of the team’s opener against Levante on Sunday. 

Valencia’s main striker Rodrigo Moreno joined Leeds while their most exciting young talent, Ferran Torres, went to Manchester City. 

Central midfielders Francis Coquelin and Dani Parejo were allowed to join Villarreal for a combined fee that could reach just 13 million euros. Ezequiel Garay refused to renew his contract and left for free.

“I see it as everyone sees it,” said Gracia. “We are weakened as a result of the departures, not only the ones that went last season but now this one as well.

“Five important players gone. The squad is weaker. They told me before I came that reinforcements would arrive. 

“Those of us who are here are here to compete, I don’t want to be misunderstood, I don’t want the slightest bit of credit to be taken away from how the squad is competing in an exemplary way. 

“But it is necessary to strengthen the team and do it as soon as possible.” 

Lim’s business Meriton Holdings has owned Valencia since 2014 but a disconnect between the board and the team, not to mention the fans, has caused a swell of discontent.

In the face of fan protests last month, Lim said in a statement the club had to deal with its debt amid the coronavirus crisis, and particularly without European football this season.

“A bankrupt club is not a better club,” Lim said. “We are not in the Champions League. So we have to rebuild. This is neither the beginning, nor the end. We must learn from the past.”