It no longer looks like if Gary Neville will be sacked as Valencia coach but when after another dismal defeat over the weekend. How long can the Liga club’s owner Peter Lim persevere with a vanity project with his friend that could ultimately end in relegation?
Gary Neville suffered more agony on Sunday when his Valencia side lost 1-0 atReal Betis, a side toiling in the nether regions of La Liga. The latest defeat comes after his side were gutted 7-0 by Barcelona in first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-finals at the Camp Nou that buried their hopes of winning the tie.
Valenciapresident Chan Lay Hoon during his presentation at the Mestalla – Reuters
The former Manchester United and England defender turned Sky Sports pundit is without a win in nine games, a run that usually leads to the exit doors at clubs of a lesser stature than multiple Spanish champions and twice Champions League finalists. In 16 matches under Neville, Valencia have won four, drawn six and lost six. He was smiling at a press conference after a wretched defeat in Seville, but refusing to lose his temper won’t prevent him from losing his job.
• Neville appointed head coach until end of season on December 2
• Real Betis loss was fourth defeat in nine matches
• Betis had not won a league game since November before Ruben Castro’s 49th minute winner
• Valencia have failed to win a league game under Neville
• Have never taken lead in any league game under Neville
• Valencia only four points off relegation places
What does he make of his struggles?
Neville is acutely aware that the end may soon by nigh in only his third month as the club’s manager.
” I said before I came that I would be judged in five months, but the obituaries have already been written, I have been judged in six weeks.”
“There’s no doubt that at times like this everyone needs to stay together. Everyone suffers. It’s just not going for us at the moment. I continue to work, I continue to have belief.
“Conversations with the owners are between me and the owners. We have to turn it round quickly, I understand that. It is hard to explain the defeat. It will turn.
Has he the support of his players?
Judging by the sound of former Alvara Negredo, the former Manchester Cityforward, it does not sound he is convinced.
“That’s not up to me. We know the coach well but that’s up to the club. We shouldn’t get involved in things that we aren’t supposed to.”
Will Valencia owner Peter Lim pull the trigger on his mate?
Singaporean businessman Lim has a share in Neville’s hotel and cafe businesses, and a 50 per cent stake in non-league Salford City. He is obviously a huge admirer of Neville, but it is increasingly looking like a vanity project that is not working. When Neville arrived, Valencia were only five points off the Champions League places, but are suddenly realising that relegation from Spain’s top division could be a grim reality of appointing an Englishman with no real knowlegde of the local market and no Spanish language skills.
There are claims over the weekend that Valencia are already in talks with the former Tottenham manager Juande Ramos. He would wheeled in to apply a healing plaster to a festering wound opening up between Neville and the fans between now and the end of the season.
Have the fans turned on him?
Gary Neville, Valencia coach – Eurosport
Yes. And with good reason too. If the league had started with Gary Neville was coach, Valencia would be bottom of the table. He has a poor record than his predecessor Nuno, who resigned in November with Los Che in ninth place to make way for the England assistant coach. The local media are becoming increasingly bewildered, but Neville’s record suggests supporters have every right to be disgruntled.
What happens next?
Gary Neville in the Sky Sports studio – Eurosport
Neville is surely on life support as Valencia coach. His side are playing for pride in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final with Barca on Wednesday, but another gutting by Luis Enrique’s side may signify the obituary Neville has been talking about. He may limp onto Espanyol in Liga next Saturday, but every game at the Mestalla is suddenly one defeat from the sack. You cannot blame him for accepting the job of Valencia post. It remains one of the biggest in football, but he looks to be handling an assignment that is simply beyond his ability at this moment in time.
It may simply be the wrong job at the wrong stage of his coaching development, but Neville is discovering that is easy to be critical and pass opinion from the safety of a TV studio than having to wear the shoes and attempt to placate the demands of disgruntled fans. Neville was lauded for his work as TV pundit on Sky Sports. There is every chance he will be back in England, and back in his old job on Monday Night Football in time to see ifLeicester City can win the Premier League.