Valencia appoint Valverde
Ernesto Valverde has been appointed Valencia coach until the end of the season, replacing Mauricio Pellegrino, who was sacked in the aftermath of Saturday's 2-5 home loss to Real Sociedad.
Valencia president Manuel Llorente and sporting director Braulio Vazquez have moved quickly to fill the vacancy by appointing the former Athletic Bilbao, Espanyol, Villarreal and Olympiakos boss on a short-term deal, ahead of other reported candidates including ex-Spain coach Luis Aragones and Marcelino Garcia Toral, once of Recreativo Huelva, Racing Santander and Sevilla.
Valverde's appointment will come as a blow to former Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo's hopes of a quick return to coaching. Reports in Spain had suggested that the Italian was flying to Spain to finalise a deal.
A statement released via Valencia's club website at lunchtime on Monday said that Valverde, 48, would be presented to the media later that evening at the Mestalla.
"Valencia CF has reached an agreement with Ernesto Valverde to become first team coach until June 30 2013," the statement said. "Valverde, in his coaching career, began his professional progression at Athletic Club in 2003/04 where he qualified the Basque team for the UEFA Cup and reached the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey."
"Afterwards, the Extremaduran signed for RCD Espanyol in 2006/07 and brought them to the UEFA Cup final, which they lost on a penalty shoot-out to Sevilla. As coach of Olimpiacos FC, in two spells, after his time at Villarreal, he won the Greek league and cup in 2008/09; later in 2010/11 he again won the Greek championship, and followed that with the league and cup double in 2011/12, his second such double."
Pellegrino, who was installed just last summer, was sacked on Saturday having overseen just 21 games since his appointment, and Valencia currently sit 12th in the Primera Division standings, seven points behind fourth placed Real Betis.
Caretaker coach Salvador Gonzalez - known as "Voro" - is reportedly still to prepare for Wednesday's Champions League group game at Lille, with Valverde likely to watch the game from the stands.
Valencia will progress to the last 16 regardless of their result, but if they better Bayern Munich's result at home to BATE Borisov they will top the group.