Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville’s first foray into management lasted less than four months, as he was today sacked by Spanish side Valencia.
The 41 year old arrived at the Mestalla in December under controversial circumstances, as many Valencia fans were unhappy that Neville – a friend of owner Peter Lim – was handed the job despite having no previous managerial experience.
In all, he lasted just 28 games in charge of Los Che, winning ten and losing eleven of those. Valencia’s league form has been little short of a disaster and the word “relegation” was bandied about more than once in recent weeks – an unlikely scenario but the very fact that a club with aspirations of being in the Champions League regularly would even slightly worry about going down was simply unacceptable.
19 – Gary Neville posted the lowest win percentage of any Valencia boss in La Liga history – 18.8% (min 5 games). Adios.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 30, 2016
Neville himself issued a statement through the club’s website, in which he accepted that results have not been up to his – or Valencia’s – standards, saying:
“I would like to thank Valencia Football Club, the fans, staff and the players. I would have liked to have continued the work I started but understand that we are in a results business and in the 28 games they have not been to my standards or to those which are required by this Club”.
The club itself also issued a statement, thanking Neville for his efforts and outlining the club’s plans for the rest of the season, whereby ex-Liverpool assistant Pako Ayestarán will take temporary charge of the first team:
“After careful consideration, the Club have decided to make a change with the best interests of the Valencia CF moving forward this season. We thank Gary for his work at Valencia and wish him the best in the future.
The Club have, today, appointed Pako Ayestaran as Head Coach until the end of the season.”
While Neville had always conceded that he was unlikely to stay on beyond this season, the timing of his departure is still a bit of a surprise. Valencia’s season is, for all intents and purposes, over – with little to play for and sitting in 14th, changing manager at this point of the season seems slightly unnecessary.
Nonetheless, Ayestarán’s first match in charge is an away match at Las Palmas this Sunday, before two far more difficult opponents in the form of Sevilla and Barcelona.
Neville, meanwhile, might himself in the running for the Aston Villa job before long.