Posts Tagged ‘Phil Neville’

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If anything, at least Neville looks like a Torero (bullfighter)

It’s always refreshing to see a coach leave his home for an opportunity to refine his managerial palate abroad, but sometimes the move stinks more of PR than genuine positivity. Case in study: Gary Neville.

Valencia are one of the most demanding clubs in Europe – make no mistake about that. The fans have been ridiculed by board members, club presidents and now the sugar-daddy owner Peter Lim. This often works in a cycle whereby the fans become impatient with a new manager because he clearly does not understand the club’s identity, nor does he attempt to connect with them. There is always that barrier that the club places between manager and fans; all that the latter wants is for that to be knocked down, at least for the sake of transparency and honesty. For all his money, Lim has made two very underwhelming managerial appointments since becoming the owner of the club: Nuno Espirito Santo from Rio Ave and now Gary Neville – a man who has never managed before.

If one takes a look at those two managers, it is clear to see why Lim opted for them. Lim and Jorge Mendes are great friends and have investments in similar firms/companies, so Nuno was an easy appointment. He was relatively well versed in the Spanish language due to Iberian dialect and had Mendes as his agent to speed up the process smoothly. Essentially, Lim asked his pal for a favour. Did he learn from his mistake after the catastrophic 2nd-season reign of the Portuguese manager? Of course not. Why was Neville appointed? Without making sweeping judgements, it is quite suspicious that Lim has pumped a major investment into Neville’s Salford City. Valencia are now being run like a business which, perhaps, is what football as a whole while be operating as in the coming years. The frightening notion for the fans is that nobody is combating Lim; nobody can. Mendes now has a stranglehold over the club alongside a man who will throw money at every issue on the pitch, yet play a game of monopoly with the manager that has to pick up those wads of cash and translate it into a winning team.

Lim does things with his own best intentions in mind. He is like a magician; he entertains you with flashy objects (new players) while concealing the dirty trick. He is so powerful that he could, quite feasibly, remain owner for years to come without being challenged in the slightest.

Valencia isn’t run like a cohesive club; it is so painfully obvious that they are divided into clear sectors with no communication whatsoever. As aforementioned, the fans have a barrier to the manager. The players often have the same barrier, as seen with Alvaro Negredo, Rodrigo De Paul and João Pereira’s mistreatment by Nuno. The manager then cannot see the board members, the president or owner – but they can see him. It is almost like an interrogation room where everyone can see the culprit through blacked out glass, but he cannot see them. Managers become evil in the eyes of the fans, while those in charge cackle away.

Valencia’s last six managers (in three years) are as follows: Mauricio Pellegrino, Ernesto Valverde, Miroslav Djukic, Juan Antonio Pizzi, Nuno and now Neville. Here is where the issue lies. When those names are analysed and stripped apart, they have zilch in common. There is no similarity in managerial styles, nothing in-keeping with Valencia’s identity. They are just names quickly picked out of a hat – for good or for worse – that simply do not align with anything the club represents historically.

Valencia are not yearning for a powerhouse, Pep Guardiola-type manager. They just want, and need, someone who understands the club. A man who makes the effort to connect with the fans while also displaying strong managerial skills. Someone who does not allow himself to be puppeteered by the powers above. It may seem like that is asking for too much, but Valencia have been toiling with an identity crisis for almost ten years now and it seems as though things are finally reaching a saddening climax. Valencia Club de Fútbol could have its name changed to Valencia Enterprises and nobody would be able to tell the difference.

Ultimately, Neville knows nothing about the Spanish culture or language. Most importantly, he has never managed before. Everyone starts somewhere, but at one of the toughest clubs to conquer in Europe is a stretch too far. It reeks of David Moyes 2.0 but, in fairness to Moyes, he had a decade of experience under his belt and had always expressed a penchant for wanting to work abroad. Valencia need managerial stability above all else – they will not get that from a man who still has not found himself, or his style as a manager, just yet.

It’s great for Neville – it really is. You can’t blame him. He’s at one of the biggest clubs in Spain and will be absorbing a new culture, but he does not know what is awaiting him – and, if you speak to those six managers Valencia have appointed in the last three years, they’ll tell you it isn’t positive.

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