Last week I wrote about my worries concerning Gary Neville, manager of Valencia for just a month.
This week, Valencia saw its roughest loss since Neville took command, losing 7-0 against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey.
Valencia has always been a feisty club with talent not to be underestimated. They bring the game to their opponent, but this has not been the case under Neville. You can say all you want about facing a supernatural Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, but this is Valencia.
It was Valencia, anyway.
Although my support lies elsewhere in La Liga, my heart breaks for Valencia fans. No fan wants to see a plummet this hard, waiting for the impact.
It’s too early to deep six Neville, but his humiliation cannot continue much longer before it happens. Valencia have not won a league match in eleven games. They now sit in twelfth place (not quite relegation zone despite it being described elsewhere as “just five points of relegation zone”). They can have tea with their league position neighbors, Real Sociedad, who also suffer similarly. Although Sociedad jettisoned their British answer to their woes.
Journalists in the post-match press conference used words like “ridiculous” to describe the loss. One asked Neville, “Barcelona could have scored twelve goals – do you think you’re capable of advancing and saving the season?”
Neville answered, “It’s going to be a painful 3 or 4 days…one of the most painful experiences I’ve had in football. My belief in my self is fine, I’ve got no problems with that … Even with eleven men, we made so many silly errors, errors you can’t make playing against [Barcelona].”
Neville explained that his chosen game plan against Barcelona was based on a previous match against them at the Mestalla. He said most teams have tried many things against Barça, and that his game plan was the same against Barça and Real Madrid.
When a journalist asked if he would consider resigning, he said, “Next question.”
The question after that was about being sacked, using the word “humiliation” (translated) repeatedly. Neville waved him away.
Neville is pleasingly defiant and refuses to be rattled. But he isn’t yet comfortable devising his own tactics—and he’s blaming things on the prowess of the Barcelona trifecta of Messi, Suarez, and Neymar. He’s using, by his own admission, game plans that worked before in different circumstances.
So what’s the solution? Neville must dig deep to work with his players on a level that motivates them as a whole. He has to get in close to play to Valencia’s strengths.
Pundit Guillem Balague thinks it’s a moot point.
Valencia have asked Benitez if he would take charge of the team next season https://t.co/c1w6wRQKt5
— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) February 4, 2016
Rafa Benitez would, in my opinion, be a considerable step down from Neville, but there’s no denying Rafa has a record. Although frankly I’d hoped we’d seen the last of Rafa for a while in La Liga, he could be the answer for Los Che. But I’d like to see Neville pull one out of the hat and get through this.
What do you think the problem is at the Mestalla?