Throwdown Thursdays: Gary Neville as Valencia Manager

Like most fans of the English Premier League, we’ve been very impressed by Gary Neville’s analysis for Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football (MNF). It seems that his obvious tactical nous and his friendship and business relationship with Peter Lim – owner of Valencia and part-owner of Salford FC -has lead to his first managerial appointment at the Mestalla. Yes, the headline we all woke up to yesterday was “Gary Neville appointed manager of Valencia.”

The question is whether or not this is a good idea for either party. We break it down and get some help from our friends too.

Some people think that Gary Neville will come out the beneficiary of this development.

Rob Palmer – The Final Third  @Not_Rob_Palmer

Neville going to Valencia is, in my opinion, one of the most mental managerial appointments that I can remember. Valencia are a sizeable club in Spain and they’ve gone and appointed someone who has never held a top job before. A man who has been working predominantly as a TV analyst with a bit of coaching thrown in on the side. It can only stand to benefit Neville as he will gain respect from the English media for taking the job, “plucky Brit” narrative and all that; he can also only improve as a coach by being involved in a totally different football culture to that he has spent his entire life involved in.

However, Valencia could lose out massively. He could go over and end up being totally out of his depth, which I think he will be, and they could end up not even getting into the Europa league next season. Given the money spent there since Lim has come in and with plans to get the Nuevo Mestalla finished in the next couple of years that is unthinkable.

I’m pleased that Neville has taken a gamble, as very few other up and coming coaches too, but I think it’s very naive from Valencia to appoint him.

Winner: Gary Neville 

Loser: Valencia


There are some who see more than 99 problems awaiting both parties.

Darren “Spherical” @hispanospherical

First off, I’m a long-time admirer of Gary Neville, yet whilst his appointment was initially greeted here with disbelief and an irrepressible dose of glee, having sobered up, it is hard not to feel some trepidation over what lies ahead. Indeed, in an effort to appease fans who feel nepotism has been rife at the club, Valencia chairwoman Layhoon Chan said the new manager would not be close to agent Jorge Mendes, who represents an eyebrow-raising number of players at Los Che.

Gary Neville may well fit that particular bill but his links to owner Peter Lim merely perpetuates the stench of cronyism at Mestalla. This, plus the rapid turnaround of managers (Neville’s the sixth in the last three-and-a-half years) and his lack of familiarity with Spanish football, language and culture, means it’s hard not to envisage the notoriously demanding fans getting on his back from an early stage. That’s not to write him off before he’s even patrolled the touchline, however. Who honestly knows how this will pan out?

Reportedly, there are many dressing room issues that need dealing with, the ostracizing of Alvaro Negredo and the supposed favouritism bestowed upon Mendes’ clients, to give two notable examples. Could any manager, not just one in his first job in an alien culture, sort out these problems adequately – which, by Valencia’s standards, means improving on-field performances and ultimately qualifying for the Champions League again – in a mere six months?

There can be no doubt that Neville will benefit from the experience of a different footballing culture, and the England team should do well out of it too if he can provide them with newly cultured insight. The Premier League, on the other hand, is a different matter. Could the exploits of Gary and Phil go some way to boosting the profile and revenue of La Liga, and further drawing talent away from the self-proclaimed “best league in the world”? Fantasy talk perhaps, but then this appointment will have to wait some time before it seems real.

 Winner: England and cronyism

Loser: Everybody else


Many are waiting to see what happens

Euan McTear – Freelance football journalist and author @euanmctear

While Valencia are a good team and will never be that terrible on the pitch, their off-the-field issues are not to be underestimated. Peter Lim and Jorge Mendes have such control of the club at the moment that there will be no long term success at Valencia in my view as they are currently a stepping stone club which Mendes and Lim use to make money buying players and selling them on at a higher price. Neville only has a contract to the end of the season, suggesting he may not quite be invested in Valencia for the long haul and if that is the case then it is a good fit for him to add another highlight to his already stellar CV. If he genuinely wants to stick around Valencia for a few seasons then he’d better strap in for a rocky ride.

Winner: None – maybe Neville

Loser: None


For Valencia, the end is near

Mohaned – Under The Cosh – @arsenal89_Mo

If I were a Valencia fan and woke up this morning to news that my club had added a second Neville to the coaching staff for the rest of the season, I’d be absolutely fuming. The only winners here are Spain-based British journalists such as Sid Lowe and Graham Hunter. Not only will they have the advantage when it comes to interviewing Neville, but they’ll get a ton of work in the British media reporting back on his progress.

The first Neville had no credentials deserving of his role as assistant manager, let alone the now ex-manager, Nuno Espirito Santo, who was hired solely because he was Jorge Mendes’ first ever client.

Now add the second Neville into the mix; Peter Lim’s friend and business partner at Salford City. Gary has no prior experience as a manager and no evident credentials to lead such a big club in its current state. The appointment stinks of cronyism. Yet another hire by Peter Lim which is not based on anything other than personal ties.

I can’t blame the supporters of feeling the club has lost its identity since Lim’s arrival. From Jorge Mendes to Nuno to the Neville brothers, this is another farce of an appointment to add to the long list of managers at Valencia Since Rafa Benitez (Sorry Unai Emery). Make that 15 coaches in 15 years. Looking forward to 16 in 16 come July.

Winner: Sid Lowe and Graham Hunter

Loser: Everyone concerned


Hope springs eternal

David Wall – Penya Valencia FC USA@DavidWall17

I was shocked and horrified when I first heard the news that Gary Neville would be the new Valencia coach. English coaches are usually terrible outside the EPL and he’s not even had a head coaching position before in his career. But as I let that information settle in I realized things were not all so bad.

First of all, if his contract was any longer than six months I would be singing a different tune. But considering he is essentially a glorified caretaker manager, this is probably the best case scenario for us. We have a manager with no strings attached – if he does well renew him for a couple more seasons, if he does poorly, at least we can easily switch in the off season. Gary is a well respected coach in England, so he must have some talent. Considering how low pressure this appointment is, I would imagine he may find some success. I reckon if he qualifies for the Europa League it will be viewed as such.

And finally there is the matter of the press. I’m fairly certain Valencia are getting more media coverage because of Gary’s appointment now than they did 13 years ago when they made back-to-back Champion’s League finals. All this exposure is only good for the club, and if Gary is successful it can only get better.

Of course, if he’s a flop it will be viewed as a horrific failure, Valencia will be without European football for yet another season, and Gary Neville’s career as a coach will be ruined, but hey – you have to take chances.

All in all, great move for Valencia, and I’m sure Gary is quite happy about it too.

Winner: Everyone concerned

Loser: None

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