The appointment of Gary Neville as the manager of Valencia came as a massive shock to everyone associated with football. At the beginning of December after taking over from Nuno at the Mestalla the club was going through a barren run and in mid table of La Liga, unfortunately for Gary Neville nothing has massively changed since his arrival. The group of players this season for Valencia are massively under-performing, while a mixture of bad luck and injuries are jeopardising their season. Fundamentally under the management of Gary Neville the team does look to be in a better position, the pressing from front to back is much better and the shape especially in midfield looks much better than the start of the season. The biggest problem Neville is facing at the club is the pressure from the fans. The Valencia fans are known passionately, they have expectations and right now the growing unrest amongst the supporters has put the position of Gary Neville under scrutiny.
A promising run in the Copa Del Rey may be a definitive factor for Gary Neville. A favourable draw in the quarter finals against Las Palmas gives them every chance of reaching the Semi-finals; however the continuous winless run in the league is now at six games under his management. During this period the team has four draws and two defeats, both defeats coming away from home to Real Sociedad and Villarreal respectively. The group of players has shown great character to recover draws from losing positions, most recently during their home clash with Rayo Vallecano, who were winless since Novemeber. The obstacles against Gary Neville has been a welcome into the managerial world, the injuries to key players for the club hasn’t helped the England coach in the slightest and the constant changing he has been forced to make to his back four hasn’t been easy either.
The return of Sofiane Feghouli will be a massive boost for Valencia in improving their fortunes. The Algerian international has been a transfer target for Chelsea and Manchester United in recent times, and is vital for Valencia going forward. His return will add much needed flair to the side going forward. Jose Gaya has only been available for one of the games under the management of Gary Neville and he has proved a massive loss. Still only 20 years of age, the young Spaniard is a vital player for Valencia and his return will move out the unpopular Lucas Orban who doesn’t look the standard of player who merits a place in a Valencia side. The form of Dani Parejo and Andre Gomes in the heart of the midfield will be vitally important to the success of Gary Neville reign at the club, both players are influential players who help balance the side and give the players a platform to play. Santi Mina and Danillo Barbosa are benefitting from Gary Neville’s lack of fear playing the younger players and are progressing very encouragingly for Valencia, though from reports in Spain Neville is currently looking at a group of players from the current group in the Valencia Mestalla team to progress into the first team. Alvaro Negredo now looks a hungry striker again under Neville which could give the opportunity to play two up front alongside Pablo Alcacer who leads the goal scoring charts for the team.
Gary Neville has insisted that the club doesn’t need to delve into the transfer market this January; however from watching Valencia this season there are areas they do lack. The team lacks leaders especially after losing Otamendi to Manchester City in the summer. One player that could come under consideration is a player that Gary Neville knows very well from his time at Manchester United would be Nemanja Vidic. Vidic had his contract terminated last week at Inter Milan, an insult really to the Serbian centre back that enjoyed such a great career at Manchester United. The former Manchester United captain has always lacked the pace but his leadership qualities and aerial ability could see him as a shock target for a lot of clubs around Europe this January, though a move to America or China may look most likely. Neville would do a lot worse to bring in Vidic to help the club stop leaking goals and help the young players that are within the group. He would provide a better alternative at the back should they lose Mustafi or Abdennour through injury or suspension.
The second half of the season will be massive for the future and career of Gary Neville. A very popular character and coach within the game, he deserves more time in Spain to turn around the fortunes of such a big club, especially with it being his first management job.