New Valencia manager Gary Neville wants to test himself as a coach after earning a reputation as one of England’s best football minds as a pundit following a brilliant playing career.
The former Manchester United and England defender said yesterday at his unveiling that it was time “to stand up”.
“I have been offered other jobs in football over the last four, five years, but the timing never felt right,” Neville said. “But when I received the call on Sunday evening, I thought, ‘What a football club, what an opportunity, what a challenge’. Sitting on television talking about coaches for the last few years, the time has come for me to stand up. This is a wonderful club. If I had turned down this job I could have said goodbye to my credibility.”
When asked what Neville the pundit would say about the signing of Neville the coach, he admitted that he would have to call it risky.
“I would question it as a neutral observer,” he said. “I would be sceptical and want to be proved otherwise, and I have to say that I understand I have to prove myself to Valencia’s fans and, most importantly, to its players.”
Neville, 40, will be aided by younger brother Phil, who also played for United and joined Valencia last year as an assistant under former manager Nuno Espirito Santo. Besides helping his brother get familiar with the club, Phil has learned Spanish, and will help communication with the players. “If Phil wasn’t here, I would want him here,” Neville said. “He is diligent, hardworking and talented.”
The siblings, along with other former United players, are also business partners with Valencia owner Peter Lim in English non-league club Salford City.
Even though Neville’s contract runs only until the end of the season, he said his family would be moving “permanently” to Valencia. “I will make no decision in the next months that won’t be for the long term,” he said, adding that he is looking for a Spanish teacher “willing to get up at six in the morning” to give him classes before training.
Neville will begin his job on Sunday, a day after he observes how his new players fare against European and Spanish champions Barcelona under interim coach Salvador Gonzalez.
His first match will be against Lyon on Wednesday, when Valencia need to win to keep alive hopes of advancing in the Champions League.