Gary Neville's appointment as Valencia boss came out of the blue earlier this week, however, it shouldn't have come as such a major surprise after all.
Why? Because the man making the appointment was Peter Lim, a entrepreneur with a £1.3 billion fortune who owns Valencia - and also happens to have a 50% stake in Neville and the Class of '92's non-league venture, Salford City.
The secretive Singaporean businessman made his fortune in palm oil and failed with an attempt to buy Liverpool back in 2010. He struck up his relationship with Neville around a decade ago when Manchester United toured East Asia, and the pair have remained close since.
Via an investment company, Lim is also involved in Neville and Ryan Giggs’ Hotel Football, which is situated in the shadows of Old Trafford. The 65-year-old, who was previously a stockbroker before turning to investment, and now also makes his money from property investment.
He took over at Valencia last year, and has also forged a close relationship with super-agent Jorge Mendes - a fact Los Che fans aren't particularly happy with and believe he exerts too much influence over the club, and Cristiano Ronaldo - whose image rights he now owns after a multi-million pound six-year deal was agreed last year.
That's all well and good, but it wasn't until this week that Lim became particularly relevant. When Valencia's former boss, Nuno, was let go, it was Phil Neville who was called upon to step into the breach on a temporary basis.
That was until Lim called upon Gary, who was introduced to the Valencia fans yesterday at a press conference. He said: "I think the absolute intention is to deliver success straight away, that has to be the case at a club of Valencia’s size. It’s a rollercoaster, clubs go through periods that are less good than others. The owners are committed to long-term success. I can’t think short-term, it wouldn’t be me.”
In order to take up his first senior management role, Neville is said to have turned down a major new contract to stay working as an analyst with Sky Sports, while he has also 'parked' his commitments with Salford City and with England, where he is a coach, for the time being.
However he's not walking into the most simple of situations; results at the Mestalla this term have been underwhelming at best and the fans are not happy with Mendes, who has links to Ruben Vezo, André Gomes, Joao Cancelo, Rodrigo, Enzo Perez and Santi Mina, who have all arrived at Valencia over the past two years.
Valencia played Monaco in the Champions League earlier this season and Mendes represented eight players on each side. The match was subsequently dubbed ‘the game that Mendes could not lose" as he had eight players in each camp.
Indeed, Neville has become something of a poster boy for Valencia by arriving at the club without any direct links to Mendes. ‘Gary is not Mendes man’ ran the headline on local newspaper Superdeportes.
What Neville certainly is though, is a Lim man - and he's helping the businessman, who made his money in property and investment, increase his standing in the European soccer game.
Do you think Gary Neville will be a success at Valencia this season?
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