Valencia CF stunned the football world after announcing that former Manchester United defender and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville will be taking over the reins of the club following the resignation of Nuno Esp rito Santo on Monday.
Nuno resigned as the manager of the Los Che . after his side lost 1-0 to fellow La Liga strugglers Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Sunday, leaving them tottering at 9th position in the league with just 19 points from 13 matches. In Europe, Valencia currently lie in 3rd position in their qualification group after suffering back to back defeats against Zenit St. Petersburg and Racing Gent in their last two outings in the UEFA Champions League.
Gary’s twin brother Phil, who has been serving as Valencia’s assistant manager since July this year, will continue being a part of the coaching staff. Former Los Che winger Miguel Angel Angulo will step up from his role as the youth team coach to join Gary Neville’s staff alongside Phil.
As Gary Neville begins his first managerial stint with a top flight continental club, here are 3 major challenges that lie ahead of him as the manager of Valencia.
Valencia’s imminent elimination from the UEFA Champions League
Gary Neville’s first official game in charge of Valencia takes place on Wednesday when his side lock horns with Olympique Lyon in Matchday 6 of the UEFA Champions League. In what is a must win contest for his side, Neville will be hoping to inspire his troops to a victory at the Estadio Mestalla against the Ligue runners up and hope Racing Gent slip up against Zenit St. Petersburg in the other match in the group.
Valencia have thusfar endured a bipolar European campaign. After losing their opening group match against Zenit St. Petersburg at home, Valencia went on to record back to back victories against Lyon and Gent in their next two. However, 2 successive defeats after that has left Valencia languishing in 3rd place in the group with just 6 points, leaving their qualification hopes hanging by a thread. Neville’s first assignment as the Valencia manager may just turn out to be his most crucial one yet.
Los Che ravaged by Injuries
Only 15 players were fit enough to train on Friday as Valencia were getting ready to take on the mighty FC Barcelona in the Spanish La Liga on Saturday. The Los Che squad has been blighted by injuries to key personnel throughout this season. Important players such as Lucas Orban, Diego Alves, Shkodran Mustafi, Rodrigo, Sofiane Feghouli, Andre Gomes, Alvaro Negredo and Antonio Barragan are all out injured and are unavailable for selection in the near future.
Former Spanish International Alvaro Negredo, who joined Valencia this summer on a permanent transfer from Manchester City, has not played for the club since early October after he criticized Nuno in a radio interview. Negredo was central to Nuno’s plans at the Mestalla which is typified from the fact that he scored a crucial goal against Monaco in August to drive Valencia into the Champions League for the first time in 3 years. He is currently sidelined after undergoing surgery on his appendix a fortnight ago.
Injuries to key defensive personnel such as Antonio Barragan, Shkodran Mustafi and goalkeeper Diego Alves has left Valencia horribly exposed at the back in crucial domestic and European games. Dealing with a half fit squad will be a major task for Neville when takes over as the manager of Valencia on Monday.
Peter Lim-Jorge Mendes Duopoly
Singapore based billionaire Peter Lim, the owner of Valencia CF, has a longstanding business partnership with the Neville brothers. Manchester Uniteda s Class of 92, comprising of Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt became the owners of Salford City FC in July, 2014. Salford City FC is a semi professional football club in the Northern Premier League Premier Division of England. In September last year, the Class of 92 sold off 50% of their stake in the club to Lim. Given his close association with the Class of 92, it is perhaps not very surprising that Lim opted for Gary Neville as the manager of his other major football venture – Valencia CF.
Super-agent Jorge Mendes, who was instrumental in the appointment of former manager Nuno at the Mestalla, is a close friend of Peter Lim. Mendes is also responsible for bringing in several of the current crop of players to the club. Going forward, Neville will be expected to work closely with Mendes and Lim at the helm of Valencia. Tackling the Lim-Mendes duopoly will perhaps be the biggest challenge that Gary Neville will face at the club.