Valencia pretty much had to win their match against Real Betis on Sunday and yet failed to do so—again. They lost 1-0 and are now nine games without a win.
And still manager Gary Neville sees no problem in the work he’s doing. It’s all simply bad luck, according to the former Manchester United defender.
“The obituaries have already been written,” he said after the match. “I have been judged in six weeks. The work I am doing, I believe in. I can see there is order and structure in the team, better fitness.
“This is a far better organised team than when I first came. But it is not getting results, that is our biggest problem at the moment. I am aware of the consequences when you don’t get good results.
“The results do not reflect the work, the effort, the order in performances. I know these things can happen in football, it can happen to anyone, it is happening to me at the moment. But I believe in myself, I always will.”
When asked if club owner Peter Lim should or would make a statement regarding his future, Neville said, “Statements are weak, at this moment words are weak, the only thing that can help are results. Every defeat feels like a punch in the face for the fans, for the players, for myself.”
He’s got the feeling sorry for himself a bit down, anyway.
Ahead of the match, Neville said, “I need to make sure everything in the players’ minds now shifts to Betis. Be clear, we have to deliver on Sunday.”
But does it all simply come down to bad luck, as Neville claims? After all, if the header from Germany international Shkodran Mustafi in stoppage time had not been ruled offside, Valencia could have equalized and the conversation would be entirely different—the headlines would be full of “Valencia on the up.”
Sure, that was bad luck. But one offside goal does not turn around a ship that is not only sinking, but has lost its life boats. To be sure, the squad has suffered injuries, but Neville’s constant tinkering with the formations indicates he doesn’t yet know how to play the team. His reliance on Aymen Abdennour is an unfortunate example; the Tunisian has been sloppy and inconsistent.
The effort from the players must improve; the coaching must improve, and perhaps Neville must take a good look in the mirror in order to find where the problems lie.
Valencia face a nightmare this week in another match against Barcelona on Wednesday in the Copa del Rey.