WHEN Gary Neville shocked the footballing world in December by agreeing to become Valencia’s manager, many saw it as the first step on the way to one day taking charge of his beloved Manchester United.
The former Red Devils right-back had earned rave reviews during his time as a TV pundit and is a key member of Roy Hodgson’s England coaching staff.
Several months on and Neville is the subject of fans’ fury after a distinctly unimpressive period at Valencia with the La Liga outfit too close to the relegation zone for comfort.
The Guardian reports: “Gary Neville insisted he would not resign after Sunday’s 2-0 defeat by Celta Vigo prompted chants from Valencia fans for him to leave but his time at Mestalla will not now extend beyond the end of the season unless there is an unexpected turnaround.
“Fans at Mestalla chanted “Gary, vete ya!” (Gary, go now!) in significant numbers for the first time. Valencia have won only three of 16 league games under him and are six points off the relegation zone.
“After the club’s Europa League exit last week a poll in one local paper asked what Valencia needed to do next. As the early results came in, 0 per cent had gone for “sack the manager”, while 67 per cent voted for “begin a revolution in the squad”. But judging by the Mestalla on Sunday night, opinion is shifting against him.”
It was always going to be a tough introduction to management for the former England international and with it now appearing certain he won’t be at Valencia next season, the question is ‘what next for Neville’?
There’s no doubt an English club would be willing to take him on but he may have to begin further down the footballing pyramid than he might have had he not gone to Valencia. It’s doubtful a Premier League club would take such a risk.
As for the United job, Neville was clearly never going to be in the running for the role in the short-term and, while his seemingly brief stint in La Liga certainly hasn’t done him any favours, it will ultimately be just a small blip on his CV.
What he will be judged on is how he responds and performs in his next position which almost certainly will be in the more familiar English system.
Has Neville’s Valencia experience done irreparable damage to any hopes him of one day managing Manchester United?