As we all now know former-Manchester United defender Gary Neville has been appointed as the head coach at Valencia on a five-month-contract.
The news came as a surprise, but it was only a matter of time before Neville stepped into a manager’s chair somewhere.
Stepping out of his comfy studio
For the last few years Gary Neville has been Sky Sport’s star analyst. The 40-year-old has attracted plaudits from fans of every club, even Manchester City and Liverpool fans have come to like Neville, although they would not like to admit it.
His passion and knowledge was there for everybody to see. I have to admit my opinion of Neville was completely changed and I gained a new found respect for him from his time on Sky’s screens.
The most surprising thing for me was the fact that Neville despite his obviously allegiance to United was unbiased in his opinion when it came to arch-rivals Manchester City and Liverpool.
Monday night football will not be the same without Neville. However his next step was not completely unexpected, as he has also been involved in the England coaching set-up for a while, and seemed destined for a managerial role at some point.
Up for a challenge
Gary Neville was always a leader in his playing days. He was United captain and a PFA representative as well. Judging by comments from of former-Sky sparring partner Jamie Carragher, Neville is a stickler for detail and will leave nothing to chance in his new role.
The former-United defender has certainly chosen a difficult challenge for his first managerial role. Los Ches are traditionally one of Spain’s biggest clubs, but due to financial difficulties they have fallen down the pecking order in La Liga in recent years.
The arrival of Singaporean businessman Peter Lim meant that the clubs finances have improved, as did their fortunes on the pitch last season, as Nuno Espirito Santo guided the team to a fourth-place finish last season.
However, the Portuguese boss quit his role last week with the team ninth-position in the Spanish top-flight table. Ironically Phil Neville was handed the caretaker bosses role. It looks like Phil will now return to his role of coach under his brother.
Expectations are extremely high at Valencia. They are the third most supported club in Spain behind giants Real Madrid and Barcelona. That means they are expected to challenge the big two, even if they have a vastly inferior squad to Spain’s most successive two clubs.
Neville’s arrival seems to have been met by a mixed reaction by Los Ches fans. His lack of experience of being a boss is maybe one of the reasons. Another will be the fact that he will have to learn the language.
Hopefully for Neville football is a universal language and he will get his ideas across with the help of a translator.
An Englishman abroad
British coaches tend not to move outside the comfort zone of the Premier League. In the past very few British bosses have been successful abroad.
However in recent years the likes of Steven McClaren and David Moyes have tried their hands abroad with mixed results. Phil Neville joined Valencia this summer and it was seen as a brave move.
British bosses broadening their horizons can only be good for the game in the home nations. Learning different styles and immersing themselves in foreign cultures can only help football at home.
Neville seems like the sort of guy who will be determined to succeed in La Liga. As an England coach it will only help the Three Lions nation team. England boss Roy Hodgson spent much of his managerial career in foreign climes and it prepared him well for the trials and tribulations of being the England boss.
Whatever happens to Gary Neville at Valencia, it will be a very good learning experience for the budding boss. He will certainly learn things in La Liga that he will definitely not learn sitting in the Sky studio.
For me Neville has the potential to be England boss at some point in the future and hopefully he will be able to transfer his vast football knowledge into managerial ability at the Mestalla Stadium.
The more English coaches that head abroad the better, as with some luck it will help English players improve, which will in turn improve the national team. Gary Neville’s time in Spain could well play a part in the England team moving forward in the future.
Will Gary Neville be successful at Valencia?