Gary Neville never gave up at Valencia – but in the end it just wasn’t enough
A messianic and maniacal La Liga Loca likes to think that the power of the blog, FourFourTwo and Greyskull moved a few mountains in Mestalla on Wednesday.
Then again, a soft-centred and soppy LLL is rather concerned and fretting that it may have inadvertently played a small role in the firing of the unfortunate Gary Neville.
This all comes after Tuesday’s tome warned the institution of Valencia that the club might be sleepwalking into a relegation battle in the final few matches of the season, with seven points probably needed and none guaranteed based on the team’s current lamentable form.
Through the thin
Despite the fact that Neville’s record was hardly the shiniest, it did appear that the Mestalla head honcho Peter Lim was going to stick by him
Neville’s sacking after less than four months at the east coast club was the most surprising, unsurprising of firings. Or the other way round.
Perhaps for the first time at Valencia since Ronaldo Koeman ended up in a courtroom battle with David Albelda, the club has parted ways with a manager for perfectly reasonable and comprehensible motives.
But despite the fact that Neville’s record was hardly the shiniest at Valencia – just three league wins from 16, a record which took the team out of the running for the Champions League places and towards the trap door at a rather rapid rate – it did appear that the Mestalla head honcho Peter Lim was going to stick by him through thick and thin.
And like a Paris catwalk, there has been an awful lot of thin. The Singaporean businessman was either demonstrating ultimate patience and loyalty, or a complete tin-ear to the boos and protests of the ever-demanding Mestalla crowd by looking to keep Neville until the end of the season.
Sympathy and dismay
However, the very real danger of a relegation battle seems to have sharpened a few minds in Mestalla, and the former Manchester United man has been jettisoned. Perhaps it’s for the best, what with Real Madrid, Villarreal, Sevilla and Barcelona to come in an alarming set of upcoming opponents before the season’s end.
As Valencia journalist Paco Polit tweeted: 'At the end of the day, I feel bad for Gary on a personal level. He seems like a good guy'
On the surface it does beg the question of why he wasn’t binned sooner, but according to reports he was actually informed by the time he’d joined up with Roy Hodgson’s England squad and simply didn’t tell anyone until later.
Although some of the tabloid press are leaping upon Neville’s failed spell at Valencia with glee, and Ryanair have already poked fun at the firing to advertise special deals on flights to Manchester, there isn’t a lot of joy to be had from his departure. Apart from supporters feeling that there is now less of a chance of the club going down to La Segunda, that is.
Neville took a chance of challenging himself in a tough environment to see if he could walk the walk of coaching, after talking the talk for so long. The former England full-back was clearly dedicated to the cause, and was visibly hurt by the failure of both himself and his team to deliver.
“I would have liked to continue the job I began, but I understand we are in a business where results matter,” Neville said in a written statement after news of the parting was announced by Valencia.
As Valencia journalist Paco Polit tweeted: “At the end of the day, I feel bad for Gary on a personal level. He seems like a good guy.”
There doesn’t seem to be any personal animosity towards Neville from the Valencia fans, as it was clear that the Englishman cared and felt just as frustrated by the poor results.
If there was one positive from the Englishman’s less-than-successful spell at Valencia, it was that he never stopped trying
But they never really moved on from the confusion of why a rookie manager with no experience of La Liga, a top-flight club or even a knowledge of Spanish was plonked into a job which has challenged some of the best managers in the game today.
The only way that Neville was going to move past that narrative was to win big, and win a lot. But that never happened, and Valencia have been left in the hands of Pako Ayestarán in a considerably more perilous and parlous state.
Many other figures would perhaps feel relieved that the burden of such a stressful environment has been lifted. But not Neville. If there was one positive from the Englishman’s less-than-successful spell at Valencia, it was that he never stopped trying.
But that simply wasn’t enough in the end.