- Associated Press - Monday, October 3, 2016

MADRID (AP) - New Valencia coach Cesare Prandelli believes he can put the Spanish club back on track by getting the players to buy into a “team mentality.”

The former Italy coach was officially introduced to fans and the media on Monday, a day after Valencia’s 2-0 home loss to Spanish league leader Atletico Madrid.

“If we can instill a team mentality in the players, this side can improve a lot,” he said. “The players should feel responsible for the club they represent, and the fans as well. This is very important for the team. Our goal is to convey the values of the club to the players, values of a club ??with great success.”

The 59-year-old Prandelli, who signed a contract through June 2018, is Valencia’s eighth full-time manager since Unai Emery’s four-year stint ended in 2012. Prandelli is replacing Pako Ayestaran, who was fired recently after the team lost the first four matches of the season. The team was being led by interim coach Salvador “Voro” Gonzalez.

“I am optimistic because there is a good base here, a team with a lot of capability for improvement and a very good mentality,” Prandelli said. “What I also like is that the Valencia CF project is an attractive one with a Valencian mentality.”

The loss to Atletico dropped Valencia into the relegation zone with six points after seven matches.

Owned by Singapore investor Peter Lim since 2014, Valencia is the last team other than Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atletico to win the league title, in 2004.

Prandelli, who coached Italy from 2010-14, met with Lim in Singapore before being hired.

“It was a very interesting meeting,” Prandelli said. “He is a businessman who seems as if he is far away, but he is not. He is committed to a long-term project. When a businessman of his standing puts together a long-term project in football, the thing that should matter is the Champions League. I do not know if it will come in six months, one year, two years or more, but the idea is always to get back into the Champions League.”

Valencia resumes playing after the international break in two weeks. It will play at Sporting Gijon, which is just two spots ahead in the standings.


Tales Azzoni on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tazzoni. His work can be found at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/tales-azzoni

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