Djukic reveals big plans for Valencia
Newly installed Valencia coach Miroslav Djukic says his plan on returning to the club where he starred as a player is to reawaken one of European football's "sleeping giants".
The former Serbian international played 213 games for in six seasons as a player at the Mestalla, winning the 1999 Copa del Rey and 2001-02 La Liga title under Rafa Benitez.
After retiring he managed Serbia's Under-21s, Partizan Belgrade, Serbia's senior side, Mouscron and Hercules, before impressing most recently at Real Valladolid by gaining promotion to the Primera Division and then mid-table respectability in his two years at the Estadio Jose Zorrilla.
Djukic, who retained his house in Valencia even while working elsewhere, told Superdeporte he was delighted to be back as coach and now planned to return the club to its former glories.
"My dream as a coach was to one day coach Valencia," he said. "This is my club and I am really looking forward to taking on this challenge with great responsibility. For me this is an opportunity to do great things, Valencia is like a sleeping giant and I aim to wake it up. I want to put Valencia back where it should be, among the best teams in Europe. From the first day I will do my best to achieve these objectives."
On replacing Ernesto Valverde, who turned down an offer to stay but now looks set for Athletic Bilbao, Djukic, 47, became Valencia's fourth coach in just over 12 turbulent months. The club, €400 million in debt, also have a new club president [Amadeo Salvo] and head of the foundation which in theory owns its shares [Aurelio Martinez].
The former centre-half, who has signed a two-year deal, said unity of everyone at and around the Mestalla was now vital.
"I am very excited about fronting this project," Djukic said. "We must all work together in the same direction: the fans, the media, the board and the foundation. If we work together, we will achieve our objectives. Amunt Valencia!".
Asked on Spanish radio show El Larguero about how he would like to reshape his playing squad this summer, a cautious Djukic gave some hints of his plans.
"We need to weigh things up and have not had a chance to meet and talk about who is going and who is staying, and what new players we need," he said. [David] Albelda played a very good second half of the season. We would make [Ever] Banega a leader in the team, we know he has that capacity, he is a very important player with a lot of quality.
"[Real Madrid defender Raul] Albiol is the type of player we are looking for, he is from here, a very good player, experienced in our league, he would do well for us, but everything depends on economic questions."