Earlier today, Gary Neville was sacked as the manager of La Liga giants Valencia after four poor months in charge at the Mestalla. It was a strange appointment anyway, but the run of form that the club went on under Neville made it look like a mess more than magic, but what exactly went wrong for the former Manchester United defender? Let’s begin, shall we?
First of all, the perception from most people was that he only got the job because of his friendship with Valencia (and Salford Co-Owner) Peter Lim. This may be true, and this is what the Valencia fans chose to believe, which made Neville’s job even harder than it already was. Gary, and his brother Phil, already had brief spells as coaches at other clubs and in Gary’s case, national teams, but the day in, day out grind at a club the size of Valencia was always going to be a huge task.
Secondly, imagine if Guillem Balague had taken over at Everton? That is what it was like for Valencia fans when it was announced the former Sky Sports pundit Neville was taking charge, the only difference being Balague could probably be more qualified, as he can actually speak the language! All joking aside, the language barrier for Neville was tricky, but the fans had been given this former player/pundit who had never managed a club before to try and steer them in the right direction, people wonder why they had the white flags out?
That was all prior to the appointment, meaning Neville had a chance to change opinion and to really establish himself as a good manager, and adhere himself to the Mestalla crowd. Could he be the English manager to make a name for himself overseas, and potentially be the replacement for Roy Hodgson as the England manager?
Being knocked out of a Champions League group that they should have finished at least second (even Gent got through), and some awful performances in La Liga meant immediately Neville was under fire from essentially every one in the Spanish media, and those in the English media brave enough to call it how it was. He was poor, his team were worse, and the fans knew that it could only get more embarrassing as the weeks went on.
I was asked earlier whether the sacking was due to Neville being a bad manager, or the wrong appointment at the right time, and it really made me think. We can’t judge Gary off of this job, because by the looks of things the players didn’t look at the races for the majority of his tenure, and everything about the club seems a shambles. Was it the wrong timing? Of course it was! You can’t throw a rookie in at the deep end like Valencia did, especially if he doesn’t have a prior knowledge of the league, or even the language.
I don’t think Gary Neville is a bad manager because of this job. Valencia sold him short, and he was left to field off the wolves whilst they sat back and tried to figure out how to save the mess they had created. What I do think, however, is that Neville can no longer go back to Sky Sports, analysing where teams went wrong, because if he criticises anyone, they can just come back and say “Well, you couldn’t beat Levante?”
Only time will tell what will happen with Gary Neville, but one thing is for certain. He won’t be going back to Valencia any time soon!