Sky Really Is The Limit For Gary Neville
Poor old Gary Neville.
Retiring a legend at Manchester United, being one of the Premier League’s greatest-ever right-backs and successfully transitioning from player to pundit – and being equally good at that. Not a bad career.
His coaching journey started well, too.
Appointed England assistant manager in 2012 alongside Roy Hodgson, Neville had the perfect mentor from which to learn his trade.
Given that he had already had 19 years of being managed by Sir Alex Ferguson, the eight-time Premier League winner could hardly have been more prepared for his first steps into the dugout.
The punditry was going well, too.
Being paid to sit in a studio for a few hours every Monday night, watching every game from the weekend, drawing lines and circles on a massive flat screen sounds like the perfect job for any former player.
He even had another decent side-project at Salford City.
Alongside his Class of ’92 teammates, Neville acquired a 10% stake in the Manchester-based club and watched on as they reached the second round of the FA Cup, earning the non-leaguers thousands in the process.
It was all going well until the lure of management proved too strong for G-Nev.
Valencia’s approach was always going to be hard to turn down, and with fellow Salford owner Peter Lim in the boardroom, it was the perfect chance for Neville to get his managerial career off to a flying start.
One of the biggest clubs in Spain, a chance to get into the Champions League and money to spend in the transfer market – the stage was set for the 40-year-old.
However, as he will undoubtedly have said in punditry at some point over the last few years, football is an unpredictable game.
The language barrier was always going to be a challenge – learning Spanish with a thick Manchester accent is no easy task.
He’s not the first British coach to struggle in Spain. Just ask David Moyes, who endured an unsuccessful spell as Real Sociedad manager in 2014-15.
Valencia’s squad also had a reputation for being difficult to work with, and that seems to be the case as Neville is currently nine La Liga games without a win.
Los Che are now just four points above the drop zone after losing 1-0 to relegation candidates Real Betis at the weekend – when Neville took over, they were closing in on the top four and looking at Champions League football next term.
Now, if they’re not careful, it will be the Segunda Division instead.
Fans of the club have started to turn on him and club legend Santiago Canizares has called for him to step down after the 7-0 hammering at the hands of Barcelona in the Copa del Rey.
Social media went crazy after the battering, and there were hundreds of angry fans waiting outside the stadium for the former England man.
Next up, Valencia have the unenviable task of playing Barcelona in the utterly pointless Copa second leg, before hosting Espanyol in the league on Saturday – a must-win game in Neville’s fledgling managerial career.
Considering his contact list, he should have no problem getting any advice – perhaps he could borrow Fergie’s hairdryer or kick a boot across the dressing room in the direction of Alvaro Negredo.
Whether he wins or not, Valencia look likely to ditch the Englishman in favour of Rafa Benitez in the summer, with the former Liverpool boss keen on a return to the Mestalla.
There have even been whispers that Juande Ramos could step in for the rest of the season as the ever utilized Interim One if Neville does get the boot.
That will leave Neville’s managerial career in tatters, and he will no doubt return to the Sky Sports studio to produce more quality analysis of how badly other teams are playing – at least he can now have his own segment on what not to do as a manager.
However, it will be harder for teams to take criticism from a man who failed in his own quest to organise a defence when he’s slating theirs.
Looks like Sky was the limit for Gary Neville.