Valbuena's second-half volley at Wembley on Wednesday allowed France to cap their 2010 campaign with a fourth successive victory, following Laurent Blanc's arrival at the head of the national set-up.
"We're in the rebuilding process," the Marseille winger told reporters. "We were starting again from a really low point. We had to go back to basics. I think that he (Blanc) has instilled a sense of respect among us.
"We get on really well together. In terms of desire, determination and team spirit, we're seeing a different France team. The France team needed victories to win over the fans, who had been let down so much."
Blanc replaced Raymond Domenech as France coach in the summer, after the 1998 world champions were eliminated from the 2010 FIFA World Cup in the group stage without winning a game.
In South Africa, the players also boycotted a training session in protest at the exclusion from the squad of striker Nicolas Anelka after he clashed with Domenech at half-time of their 2-0 loss to Mexico.