Gary Neville has been sacked as coach of Valencia after just over four months in charge, the struggling Spanish club confirmed on Wednesday.
“Valencia Football Club have today parted company with Gary Neville as Head Coach,” Valencia said in a statement published in English on their website.
“After careful consideration, the Club have decided to make a change with the best interests of the Valencia CF moving forward this season. We thank Gary for his work at Valencia and wish him the best in the future.”
Pako Ayestaran, previously assistant coach under Rafael Benitez at the Mestalla, has been appointed as Neville’s replacement until the end of the season, Valencia added.
“I would like to thank Valencia Football Club, the fans, staff and the players,” Neville said in a statement.
“I would have liked to have continued the work I started but understand that we are in a results business and in the 28 games (W10, D7, L11) they have not been to my standards or to those which are required by this club.”
Neville, who had been combining the job with his role as part of the England coaching team, leaves with Valencia languishing in 14th place in La Liga, six points clear of the relegation zone with eight games remaining.
The former Manchester United player, 41, oversaw just three wins in 16 league games in charge. His last game at the helm was a 2-0 home defeat to Celta Vigo just before the international break.
Neville was greeted with mass chants of “Gary go now” from the home fans at the Mestalla towards the end of the Celta defeat.
He has spent the last week with the England squad for their friendly games in Germany and at home to the Netherlands and had been due to return to Spain to prepare for this weekend’s crucial game at in-form Las Palmas.
Neville, whose brother Phil was already part of the backroom staff at the Mestalla when he took over in December, had faced strong criticism in Spain for carrying on his England duties and last week delayed meeting up with Roy Hodgson’s squad by several days in an effort to show his commitment to his club.
Six-time Spanish champions Valencia risk being dragged into the relegation battle with fixtures against Sevilla, Barcelona, Villarreal and Real Madrid still to come before the end of the season.
Los Che were also dumped out the Copa del Rey in unceremonious fashion by Barcelona with a 7-0 semifinal, first leg defeat, described by sporting director Jesus Garcia Pitarch as one of the worst results in the club’s history.
And any chance of silverware this season was ended by elimination on away goals to Athletic Bilbao in the last 16 of the Europa League earlier this month.
However, Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale believes Neville will learn from the experience, having also struggled at times himself since switching the Premier League for La Liga three years ago.
“It is obviously difficult coming to Spain anyway and being a manager where you really do have to be vocal and speak the language,” said the Welshman.
“It is obviously a difficult situation, but I felt given time he’s shown how much he knows about football and it is obviously a shame he’s been sacked.
“I’m sure he’ll bounce back from the experience and it will stand him in good stead for the future.”