A quick check on Wikipedia confirmed what I thought, it was Johnny Nash who sang ‘There Are More Questions Than Answers’. It reached number nine in the UK charts and did nothing anywhere else.
That was the song I was humming when I heard the news that Gary Neville had accepted an offer to be the new manager of Valencia. Was it just coincidental? Or maybe this strange acceptance of a job in a foreign land did raise more questions than answers.
Everybody reacted perfectly normally. Alex Ferguson wished him well and said what a good job he would do. Jamie Carragher didn’t mention anything about being surprised, he just likened the departure of his MNF buddy to that of Pegguy Arphexad leaving Liverpool and going to Coventry. Even the managing director of Sky had a speech prepared. So, the only surprising thing about this so-called bolt from the blue was that nobody was surprised, nobody in the football world anyway.
Nobody questioned why a Sky Sports pundit was suddenly going to up and leave his job, a third of the way into the season, to take on a management role at a club in a foreign country, the language of which he does not speak, having never managed a club before in his life.
Peter Lim, Neville’s new employer, is no stranger to either Phil or Gary. A self-made billionaire from Singapore, he owns 50% of Salford City, the non-league club whose other 50% is owned by the class of ’92, minus David Beckham, who is playing truant in Miami trying to set up his own club.
After failed attempts to take over Liverpool, Glasgow Rangers, Middlesbrough and AC Milan he finally bought a 70% stake in Valencia, in May 2014.
In July 2015, for some obscure reason, Phil Neville was offered the role of coach under Nuno Espirito Santo. Why would a Spanish La Liga club, the third best supported after the big two, suddenly decide that a coach, whose only previous experience was under a manager who couldn’t handle the Manchester United job and was, therefore, sacked, a coach who had never lived outside of England, who didn’t speak Spanish, was the man they needed? I would bet my mortgage on it not being the manager’s decision.
Surprise, surprise, the manager who’s decision I didn’t think it was got fired on November 30, 2015. This then resulted in Phil being named as assistant to interim manager Voro. It seemed pretty clear at the time that Voro wasn’t going to be the next full-time manager and, as Neville was only named as his assistant, he wasn’t getting the job either. So who would be next in the silla caliente?
This is where we catch up with Gary again by learning that Neville the elder had been given the job.
The Nevilles have both been tempted to Spain by something, but what? Money? Doubtful, they both have more than they need. Living abroad? Also doubtful as they are both homebirds and have never moved far from Manchester in the past.
First Phil Neville hightails it to Spain for no apparent reason, followed by his older brother a mere four months later, again for no apparent reason.
Gary Neville, had he wanted to, could have begun his managerial career in England. Phil Neville, had he wanted to, could have obtained a coaching job in England. The fact that neither of them chose this option and that both of them chose the same option is highly coincidental and a little suspicious.
They have never worked together before as far as I know. Yes, they have played for the same team. Yes, they are business partners but, in an actual working environment, particularly one where Gary is in charge, they can’t possibly know if this will work out. If it doesn’t then they have both taken a completely unnecessary risk.
My question is simple – what has made them both go down this road? There is certainly more to it than meets the eye.
Iain Anderson, Pundit Arena
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