Gary Neville’s first step into management was certainly a brave one. The former-Manchester United defender decided to cut his managerial teeth at Spanish giant Valencia.
His career at one of Spain’s biggest clubs ended after just four months following his dismissal on Thursday.
Always going to be a challenge
Neville’s transition from part-time coach and full-time Sky pundit to the boss of a Spanish La Liga club was never going to be easy. He did not speak the language and had no managerial experience.
The fact that he was unproven meant that Neville was already working on borrowed time with the Mestalla faithful. Los Ches’ fans were disappointed with owner Peter Lim’s decision to appoint his friend Neville as the clubs boss.
The expectations at Valencia are currently massive and some of the supporters reportedly even believed that the team should have been challenging for the Spanish league title this season, which is quite frankly ridiculous considering the quality of Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid.
Doubting his coaching credentials
Neville never shirked a challenge in his playing days, but I think he had bitten off more than he could chew with the Valencia job. His four months in charge saw him record the lowest win ratio of any boss in the clubs La Liga history at a measly 18.8 per cent. Valencia are currently 14th in La Liga and just six points clear of the relegation zone
His coaching skills are now being questioned, despite the 41-year-old being a highly-respectable coach prior to his move to Spain. His knowledge of the game is irrefutable. Neville’s time as a Sky pundit illustrated his know-how of the game.
During his time as a pundit he showed that he had the ability to detach himself from being a former-Manchester United player and give a neutral opinion, something some of the ex-Liverpool and Arsenal cannot seem to do.
He is believed to be well regarded in coaching circles as well. Maybe the job at Valencia was just too big for his first managerial position. His ego obviously forced him to accept the job and he obviously believed he could do it.
However, many bosses have tried and failed at the Mestalla, a lot of them more experienced than Neville. Valencia fans are some of the most demanding in Spain and they are frustrated by the fact that cannot quite challenge the big three.
Damaged his reputation in football
Gary Neville is seen as a highly-promising young English coach. There are precious few highly-rated English coaches in the game, but Neville is one of them. His disastrous spell at the Mestalla will no doubt have a short-term effect on his coaching career.
The short-term future will see the former-Manchester United star prepare for the Euros in his capacity as England assistant manager. Nothing in Neville’s personality suggests that he will be down for long.
He has shown great determination in the past and he will have learnt a lot from his time at the Mestalla. Whether he will be back in the dugout as a boss any time remains to be seen.
I just hope that his reign in Spain does not lead to more pain in his long-term career, as it would be a shame for somebody with the football knowledge of Gary Neville to suffer just because of an ill-fated move to Spain.
He seems to have all the attributes to be a very good football manager in the future, but bosses are often only judged on their last job and his time at Valencia was no doubt disappointing.
Can Gary Neville recover from his Valencia nightmare to become a top boss?