Embattled new Valencia boss Albert Celades cut a lonely figure as he discussed his side’s Champions League clash with Chelsea.
The Spanish side arrived at Stamford Bridge in a certain amount of disarray ahead of Tuesday night’s Group H opener against the Blues.
The players refused to attend the pre-match press conference in the wake of last week’s sacking of popular manager Marcelino, who led them to Copa del Rey success and secured Champions League qualification last season.
A 5-2 defeat in Celades’ first match in charge, against Barcelona at the weekend, presumably did not improve morale.
Celades, 43, duly took press conference duties alone on Monday evening, yet he insisted that no matter what the feelings are inside the camp, the team will be motivated to beat Chelsea.
He said: “Obviously it’s not an ideal situation but it’s the players’ decision, really. I don’t have much more to say about that. There isn’t anything I can do about it.
“I speak to the players every day. They took this decision but there is always dialogue. The reaction I’ve had has been very good and I’m sure it will continue to improve.
“The spirit is very good. (Tuesday) is the start of the best club competition in Europe and that is ample motivation for the players to give their best.
“They want to play, taste the atmosphere. and be in the starting XI. No-one wants to miss out and that, for me, is the most important thing.”
Marcelino claimed he was axed because he concentrated on winning the cup last season, rather than the league.
But Celades added: “There may be a lot of speculation or theories but I’m the one who makes decisions here and that’s the way it will be until I leave.
“I don’t know about the conversations the owner had with previous coaches.”
As for the task facing his team, with the Blues fresh from Saturday’s 5-2 win at Wolves, Celades said: “They are a great side with some fantastic individual players.
“It will be a big challenge but a fascinating one too. We’re sure they can cause us a lot of problems.
“We’re going to prepare for the game in the best way possible and try to get a result.”