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‘I got a massive bloody nose’ – Neville reveals where it went wrong at Valencia

The former Red Devils full-back admits he was unable to steady the ship at Spanish club because he was indecisive and unprepared

Gary Neville believes he failed as Valencia manager because he was “weak” and “unqualified” for the job.

The former Manchester United and England full-back took charge of the Spanish side in December 2015, joining his brother Phil, who was already there as the assistant coach.

Los Che were ninth in La Liga when Neville took over, but had dropped to 13th by the time he was fired at the end of March having won 11 and drawn seven of his 28 matches.

Neville says he initially rejected the offer to accept the role, but he feels he knows where he went wrong in what has been his only job as a head coach.  

“Sometimes ‘no’ is a great word,” he told  Sky Sports   when asked about his time at Valencia .  “However, sometimes you’ve got to say ‘yes’ and step up.

“I’d turned down two Premier League enquiries and two Championship enquiries in the 18 months before. I had no intention to go into management. Although I was working with England and Roy Hodgson, my role was more concentrating on analysis – like I was doing on Sky – rather than coaching.

“When Peter [Lim, Valencia owner] rang me, he didn’t want to bring in a new manager halfway through the season because he knew he wouldn’t get the man he wanted. He wanted somebody that he trusted to navigate him to the end of the season. I said no initially but then eventually wanted to do it for him.

“A little bit of arrogance, a little bit of ego – I’d lived through Manchester United for 20 years, I’d gone to Sky and it had gone well and you feel a little bit unbreakable, like you’re in a position where nothing is going to go wrong. When you’re unprepared, you’re not working hard at something as other people are, when you take something on that you’re not as qualified in as you should be, you get a slap round the face.

“To be fair, when I look back now at some of the decisions that I made – the initial decision and the decisions that I made when I got there – it was a massive learning experience. I think it has helped me even in the last few weeks in respect to what has happened with this [coronavirus] crisis and my businesses, I now act far more decisively and definitely than I have ever acted before because of Valencia. 

“I fluffed around a few decisions that I should have made and I knew instinctively at the time that I should have made big decisions and I didn’t. I sort of thought I could get away with it until the end of the season, steer the ship home to the sand and let someone else take it back out, but it never happened like that. I got a massive bloody nose.” 

He added: “The club were struggling and my brother Phil had told me the dressing room was fractured. I should have seen the warning signs much quicker and gone in there in crisis mode. In hindsight, the last thing the staff in Valencia needed was an inexperienced manager and the last thing I needed was inexperienced staff, which they were.

“The biggest thing Valencia taught me was to be clinical and decisive with decision-making. That’s why when I look at leaders, I want clarity, consistency and decisive actions. I wasn’t any of those things in Valencia. I was weak. I fluffed around when tasked with making big decisions, when instinctively I knew I should have been more clinical.

“Phil saw it first-hand and got very frustrated with me. He’d seen someone who was very resilient, strong and robust throughout their whole life breaking down in front of him, in terms of key principles like allowing other people to take a lead.

“Ultimately, what I should’ve known was that I was out of my depth, out of my league, and in a country that spoke a different language. I didn’t adapt. I didn’t prepare myself.”

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