Valencia enjoyed a valuable away win against Las Palmas in the Copa Del Rey to book their place in the semi-final against Barcelona, and the victory could well see Los Che replicate such form into their domestic campaign after manager Gary Neville’s winless start in La Liga.
Opponents Gijon can’t win on the road
Valencia lock horns with strugglers Sporting Gijon on Sunday afternoon, and boast much superior form to that of the travel-sick visitors. Neville’s side haven’t been winning games, but they haven’t been losing either. As for Gijon, the away outfit are coming off the back of five defeats from six.
The relegation-threatened side lost to Valencia in their earlier league meeting, and have suffered a total of 12 defeats already. They haven’t beaten Los Che in the league since 2008, and have been beaten in each of their last three head-to-heads in the division.
Neville knows he has the best opportunity to finally get off the mark with Valencia, and this weekend he can little excuse if the side fall short again. Four draws in their last six, without a league win since early November, while being closer to the relegation zone than top-four, things need to chance at the Mestalla.
Pressure mouting on Neville with Valencia having a strong squad
The England assistant manager has been in charge since early December, but has so far struck a blank in his seven league outings. Valencia have been rescuing points rather than taking the lead in games, and Neville knows his side have to start games faster if they want to turn the draws into wins.
Valencia are currently 11th in the table with 25 points from 21 games, and can still salvage their season if they can start dominating matches. Only Deportivo La Coruna have drawn more games this campaign, but Neville can perhaps take some solace from the lack of defeats under his short reign.
His men have also earned points against Barcelona and Real Madrid impressively, but he’ll ultimately be judged on wins. If Valencia can stop the rot, the likelihood is that they could hit some form, but the pressure certainly is getting to them.
Los Che certainly have a capable squad of turning things around, but they have been underachieving all season. It cost the job of the last manager, and it’s unlikely to see Neville staying past the summer unless he can prove he can mastermind the side to victories soon enough.
With Sporting Gijon 18th in La Liga, while having lost seven games on the bounce away from home, can Valencia finally pick up their first league win under new manager Gary Neville?