Miroslav Djukic fired as Valencia coachAP , Associated Press
Dec. 16, 2013 11:45 AM ET
VALENCIA, Spain (AP) — Valencia fired coach Miroslav Djukic on Monday, a day after a humbling 3-0 loss at Atletico Madrid that left it in the middle of the Spanish league standings.
Club president Amadeo Salvo made the announcement that Djukic would not complete the contract he signed last offseason to guide the team through June, 2014.
"I don't share the decision, but I respect it," Djukic said. "I desire the best for Valencia and ask for unity so the club can move forward."
Djukic, a former Serbia defender who played for Valencia for six years, took over the team after two impressive seasons at Valladolid. On arrival, he promised to "awaken the giant" of a team that used to be the closest thing to a challenger in the Spanish league to Barcelona and Real Madrid before the emergence of Atletico Madrid this season.
But the club never found a replacement for scorer Roberto Soldado— the most recent talent it has sold off to try and pay down its debts— and a poor run of only two wins in the last nine rounds led to Djukic's downfall.
"We tried it, but in football the results matter above all else," Djukic said. "I am the guilty one. I wasn't able to take Valencia back to the top like I said I would at the beginning. At no moment did I think that my players didn't want to run hard or play well. Sometimes the circumstances are too difficult to change."
Youth coach Nico Estevez will take over the team as its interim manager for Thursday's Copa del Rey match against Nastic Tarragona. Valencia hosts Real Madrid on Sunday in the league.
Valencia is in ninth place in the league and 10 points from the top four spots which earn a place in next season's Champions League.
Amadeo said that Djukic's successor should still have the objective of qualifying for Europe's top-tier competition.
Valencia has been through three head coaches since Unai Emery's four-year run ended in 2012.
Djukic is the third coach to be fired in Spain's top division this season, after Osasuna's Jose Mendilibar and Real Betis' Pepe Mel.