Gary Neville has made a brutally honest admission about the difficulties that came with managing Valencia.
Neville is one of the greatest right-backs in Premier League history. He put his heart and soul into every game and finished his career with two Champions League wins and eight Premier League titles for his efforts. Since retiring in 2011, he’s become one of the most renowned sporting pundits on the planet.
Fans love his honest analysis and the entertaining moments his chemistry with Jamie Carragher provides. But perhaps his most beloved trait is his kindness to others. Last year, the 47-year-old made it a priority to help job seekers in Manchester, and through Hotel Football, he created 200 positions.
There is always one angle, however, that some fans use to criticise him. And that’s his time in La Liga with Valencia.
Gary Neville hated his time at Valencia
In December 2015, the United legend accepted the managerial role at the high-level Spanish club. But he couldn’t translate his success at Old Trafford to the Mestalla Stadium.
After two months in charge of the La Liga side, he’d guided them to a total of zero wins in their first nine games in the league. And despite his desperate attempts to convey his tactics to his squad, the language barrier became a huge issue.
Then, if things weren’t already bad enough, a crushing 7-0 defeat at Barcelona put the final nail in his coffin. As a ‘Gary vete ya’ (Gary leave now) chant bounced around the stadium, the board knew they had to act. Neville was sacked.
In an interview with Blank Podcast in 2015, the Old Trafford icon admitted that he’d made mistakes throughout his time with Valencia.
The 47-year-old said: “I kick myself to this day, not for saying yes [to the job], but for the mistakes that I made. They were stupid mistakes. Not taking over an experienced staff with me that spoke English and Spanish was a bad mistake. It was naive.”
Neville also confessed that he struggled to get to grips with the power struggle at the club.
He said: “What I tried to do was pick up a rocky ship and just drift into shore rather than really grab the reins, have a strong leadership with me and also make sure that I got rid of what would be people who were making it choppy. I made some mistakes, and they were all mine.
“Communication with the players and the club was difficult, but they were excuses. To be honest, I knew I couldn’t communicate with the players and I knew the club was difficult, I knew the dressing room was divided.”
The United legend admits how badly he coped at Valencia
Speaking during a special show of The Overlap on Thursday, Neville doubled down on his past comments and opened up about his mental struggles at the club.
Neville admitted: “I didn’t deserve that job, really I should have said no. I actually lost my confidence over there. One day I remember looking in the mirror, and I knew I was really struggling.
“I had to get out of there. It was horrible.”
Nobody can ever take Neville’s achievements as a player away from him. There’s no denying that he was one of the country’s best and most dedicated players. But despite his successful career move into punditry, it’s fair to say management just didn’t work out.
He has spoken previously about Valencia being his only managerial role and based on his comments, it’s hard to see that stance changing.
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