The news that Gary Neville has been sacked as manager of Valencia did not come as a big surprise to the footballing world. Neville leaves the club languishing in 14th place, six points above the relegation zone and with nothing else to play for, having been knocked out of the Europa League and Copa del Rey.
The appointment of Neville was met with much scepticism in England and Spain, but there was an overriding hope, from English fans at least, that Neville, an excellent pundit, would succeed and potentially go on to coach the national team.
Neville’s close links to Valencia owner Peter Lim must surely have placed him at the top of the list for the job and, in many ways, Neville was right to suggest that if you are offered a job with a club like Valencia, you do not turn that down.
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Nevertheless, the job was certainly a gamble for the club and for Neville, and it was a venture that has not paid off.
The players at Valencia have not helped Neville’s cause with numerous poor performances against very beatable opposition, while the language barrier and footballing culture have proved to be a step too far for Neville.
If Neville is to return to punditry, which he clearly enjoys and excels at, then, aside from a few playful digs from Jamie Carragher, he can at least take some credit and respond that at least he has been there and knows how it feels to struggle in management.
If he decides that he would like to continue in management then there is the strong possibility that he will be in the frame for the England job after the Euros. Perhaps he would favour the more sporadic nature and intensity of national team management after his experience at club level with a passionately supported team and very demanding fans.
The former full-back will have won support amongst many English fans, and should come out of this experience with plenty of credit for risking his reputation and for taking a hit.
Neville could certainly use this failure to grow into an excellent manager in the future. He would, however, be well advised next time to attempt to start again in a culture and league that he is familiar with.
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