Gary Neville’s first head coaching job is a big one.
It was announced on Wednesday that the Manchester United legend has taken charge of La Liga outfit Valencia until the end of the season.
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Neville, 40, has been working as the assistant manager of the English national team since 2012 but taking over a giant of Spanish soccer is his first full-time gig and he will be the new head coach after signing a deal until the end of the season.
The former United and England right back will link up with his brother and former teammate, Phil, who has been assistant coach at the Mestalla since the start of this season. However, after the the firing of Nuno Espirito Santo last weekend Phil had been placed in temporary charge by Valencia’s Singaporean owner Peter Lim.
Neville has left his role with Sky Sports in the UK as a much acclaimed analyst and it is believed he will continue his work with the English national team as Roy Hodgson’s assistant.
“I am absolutely thrilled to be given this opportunity with Valencia,” Neville said. “Valencia are a huge football club of immense standing and I know from my time as a player the passion and dedication of the Valencia fans. I am really looking forward to working with the club’s talented group of players and am excited about the challenge ahead.”
In a statement on the club website, Valencia’s president Layhoon Chan revealed Neville’s strong credentials for the job.
“We are delighted to have secured Gary so quickly,” Chan said. “He combines top level coaching experience through his role as a senior coach with the England national team and a world-class playing career with England and Manchester United. Throughout his career Gary has always shown great leadership both on and off the pitch. He is hugely respected in English football and it was his personal qualities which persuaded us that he was the right choice to lead Valencia until the end of the season.”
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It must also be said that despite Neville winning every major trophy during his career at United, which saw the local lad play for the team he supported for over 19 years as a pro, he is also closely connected with Valencia’s owner Peter Lim. It has been well documented that along with their former teammates Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Nicky Butt, the Neville brothers bought non-league Salford City in 2014. The former star players helped Salford to promotion to the seventh tier of English soccer in their first season and this weekend they compete in the FA Cup second round. Who is the majority owner of tiny Salford City I hear you ask? Well, it is of course the owner of Valencia, Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim. Ah, that makes sense.
Regardless of the obvious connection, Neville talks a lot of sense and, unlike his brother Phil who was touted to take the Valencia job, he has all of the required coaching badges to manage at the top level.
Valencia face Barcelona in La Liga action this weekend but Neville won’t be in the dugout for that game and will take charge of the team on Sunday with his first game against Lyon in the UEFA Champions League on Dec. 9, a match Valencia must win to have any chance of qualifying for the last 16 of Europe’s elite club competition. The Englishman will look to rejuvenate a side languishing in ninth place in La Liga but they are only five points off the top four and finished fourth in La Liga last season.
This should be very interesting.