Gary Neville has certainly experienced better moments in his career than his start as coach of Valencia. In his coaching debut, Neville is still winless in La Liga after five league games. Valencia’s form has seen them only slip a few places since Neville’s arrival, now down to 11th; however, they are seven points adrift of a European place.
These are worrying times for Neville, who is so used to winning, but his crop of players haven’t felt that in the league since Nov. 7, where they surprised everyone in demolishing Celta Vigo 5-1 away from home. Of course, at that time Neville was busy juggling jobs as a pundit on Sky Sports and overseeing Salford City FC, which he had helped buy along with his former Manchester United teammates.
There have, of course, been bright spots in his managerial career in Spain. A comeback draw against Real Madrid last week spelt the end of Rafa Benitez’s seven-month stint at the club, and the team has won two matches in the Copa del Rey. Indeed, they have set themselves up nicely for the quarterfinals of the competition, as they lead Granada 4-0 going into the second leg.
Before the Real Madrid game, Neville hinted that he could leave the club at the end of the season, although immediately after the 2-2 draw he said that he had been misquoted and would love to stay long-term with the club. The one advantage, despite his poor start, is that Valencia are owned by Peter Lim, who also has a 50% share in Salford City. This could well give Neville more leeway than with another president of the club.
The rest of the month should judged on whether the club can start winning games again. Next Sunday morning, Valencia will take on Rayo Vallecano at the Mestalla, where Neville will be expected to get the team’s first win in over two months. Vallecano are 19th in the league and have won just four games all season; however, Valencia have won just once more. But away from home, Vallecano have lost seven of their nine matches and have conceded 27.
After Rayo, Valencia have fixtures away to Deportivio La Coruna and then at home to Sporting Gijon.
If Neville’s team can’t find wins from those games, perhaps Neville will seriously have to rethink his career in Spain.
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