Australia goalkeeper Mat Ryan threw his support behind England assistant coach Gary Neville, saying his brief stint at Valencia should not define the former Manchester United defender’s coaching career.
Neville will be on the bench alongside England manager Roy Hodgson on Friday when England host the Socceroos in Sunderland.
Ryan, 24, played under Neville during the Englishman’s four-month stint at the Mestalla and is likely to start at the Stadium of Light.
“It’ll be quite funny with him being the coach to coming up against him again,” Ryan told a news conference on Monday.
“You get to know him quite well. It’ll be good to see him there.”
Ryan added that it was never going to be easy for Neville – a respected pundit in England – to make a success of it in Valencia in what was his first senior coaching job.
“It’s a tough job going into a foreign country. And halfway through a season too, trying to change – especially a club like Valencia,” he said.
“Their fans are a very close knit family. It’s a hard culture to break into.
“His back was up against the wall when he took the job and unfortunately with him in charge we weren’t able to get the results.
“But I’ve got respect for what he’s achieved in the game as a player and in the future as a coach.
“But the biggest thing was the results. If they’re not there, it’s a results-based industry.”
Ryan added Neville should not be judged on one short spell at Valencia and believes his time will come at another club.
“It’s like a player who makes mistakes or doesn’t have a good year. It doesn’t mean he can’t learn from it and move on and be better,” he said.
“I’ve no doubt he has enough knowledge and coaching qualities to make that happen in the future and he’ll learn from his time at Valencia.
“It’s only going to better him as a coach.”