Gary Neville insists he will not walk away from the Valencia job, despite seeing his side humiliated 7-0 by Barcelona in the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg.
It was one of the most surprising appointments of recent times when the former Manchester United legend was named as new head coach of Los Che in December, a role which allows him to continue as England assistant manager but forced him to quit his Sky Sports pundit job. But so far this hasn’t looked a good decision, as the 40-year-old has got off to a horrendous start.
Without a single win from his eight La Liga matches to date, Neville would have welcomed the distraction of the main domestic cup competition in Spain on Wednesday night. However, this proved to be one of the very lowest points of his mostly glorious career, as Luis Suarez hit four goals and Lionel Messi helped himself to three in a 7-0 win for Luis Enrique’s side at the Camp Nou.
“This was one of my most painful nights in football,” said Neville, who must somehow lift his players for the second leg next week. “The scoreline is unacceptable. I have not enjoyed tonight. I won’t sleep well tonight. I didn’t like what I saw. The fans didn’t deserve that. We have to recover incredibly quickly. This is one of the worst experiences I’ve ever gone through in football.”
There are now increasing calls for Neville to stand down, particularly as his side are closer to the relegation zone – they are just five points ahead of third-bottom Rayo Vallecano – than they are to UEFA Europa League qualification, let alone a top-four finish. But he was asked on three separate occasions after the Barca nightmare if he would quit, and each time he answered no.
This will not be welcomed by at least one Valencia legend, as Santiago Canizares took to social media to offer his opinion that the head coach simply has to go. The former goalkeeper, who made over 400 appearances during a decade at the Mestalla, won two La Liga titles at the club, and he must now be wondering if there will ever come a time when they are challenging again.
“VCF’s defeat today is the worst I’ve known since I can remember,” he wrote on Twitter. “I’m waiting for the resignation of the coach, as well as an apology. I may be ignorant, but I’m surprised he hasn’t done it, I thought he was honest. If (Valencia director Jesus) Garcia Pitarch believes in Gary as he said on Monday, I’m disappointed. If he lied to us, it’s better for him to leave, too.”