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Neville calm ahead of Mestalla storm

Gary Neville is keeping a cool head before making his managerial bow in Valencia’s must-win Champions League game against Lyon.

New head coach Neville watched from the stands as Valencia earned a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Barcelona at the Mestalla on Saturday.

The former Manchester United and England defender takes charge for the first time in Wednesday’s Group H clash with Lyon, which Valencia need to win to stand any chance of qualifying for the last 16.

But the 40-year-old, who is part of Roy Hodgson’s England coaching team, is concentrating on making sure his squad are prepared and claims to not be feeling any nerves.

Speaking at his pre-match media conference on Tuesday, Neville said: “Someone told me that tomorrow is ‘the first day of the rest of my life’.

“I’m focusing on staying calm, keeping everything as clear as possible, simple as possible for the players.

“We have been mainly working on basics and ideas because we only have 48 hours – which players are fit, keeping calm, interacting with the players as much as possible.

“The training session I was amazed because there were so many people but from the players point of view you get maximum intensity because they always want to impress.

“As a player sometimes I felt nervous ahead of big games but as a coach no. Never with England. I’m in work mode.”

Valencia sit third in Group H and need pool winners Zenit to claim at least a point from their trip to Gent if they are to overhaul the second-placed Belgians.

But Neville insists he is not thinking about the possibility of dropping into the Europa League.

“All I know is that the intent has to be to win every single match. Tomorrow night not everything will be in our hands and we have to focus on that match,” he added.

“If it doesn’t go our way, that’s life. The first 48 hours here in Valencia we have to concentrate on our game, our opponent and nothing else.”


Tue 8 Dec, 2015
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