Gary Neville admits: 'I have got to prove myself' at Valencia

AFP , Thursday 3 Dec 2015

Gary Neville
Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville poses for photographers in the Mestalla stadium after a press conference in Valencia, Spain, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015 (AP)

Gary Neville on Thursday said he could not turn down the opportunity to strike out on his own in coaching with La Liga club Valencia but said any doubts about his appointment would be understandable.

The Manchester United legend has been working as part of Roy Hodgson's backroom staff with the England national team but the 40-year-old has now agreed to take over at the Mestalla until the end of the season, giving up his work as a leading and often outspoken pundit for British broadcaster Sky.

"If I'd turned down this job I could have said goodbye to my credibility," Neville told a press conference on Thursday, a day after his appointment was announced by Valencia, who lie ninth in La Liga.

Neville admitted that, in his role as a pundit in England, he would have been surprised to see a leading club appoint a foreign coach with no experience of managing at the top level.

"I would be sceptical and want to be proven otherwise. I want to show to the players I am capable of doing this job," said Neville, who succeeds Nuno Espirito Santo, the Portuguese who was dismissed after a 1-0 defeat at Sevilla on Sunday.

"The doubts and concerns will only be wiped out by winning football matches. I won't shy away from the direct approach I had on television.

"I have got to prove myself, turn the doubters. I have to provide the answers on football pitch in coming months."

Neville will be assisted by his younger brother Phil and former Valencia player Miguel Angel Angulo and will rely on them for help with the language.

"My biggest challenge will be learning Spanish. I'll need help in that regard. I have to pick up some key phrases as early as possible and learn as quickly as possible," he said.

Hodgson 'incredibly supportive'

Neville said that he sees no reason why he cannot combine the job with his commitments as part of the England coaching staff going into Euro 2016, with friendly matches against Germany and the Netherlands to come in March.

"In terms of the FA, when I spoke to Roy he was incredibly supportive and positive and enthusiastic for me," he said.

"He understood completely the opportunity for myself. He was behind me 100 percent.

"We have two games in March in the international break and I want to complete the job through to the European Championship.

"Valencia will be my priority for 95 to 99 percent of the time, apart from those games in March."

The 85-times capped Neville enjoyed a glittering playing career at United under Alex Ferguson and he admitted he had discussed the move with his former mentor.

"I didn't consult Sir Alex but I did speak to him. He offered words of encouragement and support. I would be stupid not to accept that support."

Valencia play Barcelona at home on Saturday but Neville will not take charge of the team until after that match, explaining that he wanted the team's preparations for facing the European champions to be "consistent" throughout the week.

His first game at the helm will be a crucial Champions League match against Lyon next midweek.

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