New Valencia manager Gary Neville might have secured the Los Che job on the back of no top level managerial experience, but things might not be as straightforward in higher profile jobs. Neville is the assistant to Roy Hodgson in the England setup, and was part of an insanely successful generation at Manchester United. Neville’s decorated past and influential present makes him an ideal choice for the England and Manchester United jobs, two places where a sense of dissatisfaction persists with regards to the current managerial positions.
England hasn’t quite had the joyride with current incumbent Hodgson. In his tenure as the Three Lions manager, expectation levels have come down a notch or two. The fact England rose to its highest ever FIFA ranking under Hodgson has often been overlooked; instead, the 68-year-old has been largely judged on England’s performances at Euro 2012 and the 2014 World Cup.
Which should certainly be the only barometer for assessment, but there is a noiseless air around Hodgson and the current England team. England’s record-equalling perfect Euro 2016 qualification campaign hasn’t set the pulses racing or automatically turned them into overnight favourites which makes a good case for the way the national team under Hodgson is perceived at the moment.
Hodgson’s contract expires after next summer’s Euro 2016, and the FA have done little to suggest the ex-Liverpool manager will be handed an extension. With Neville working with England, there were suggestions the former defender would be Hodgson’s successor, but such claims had little substance but the FA still consider Neville as a long-term bet.
That Neville now has the chance to set foot on the managerial world with one of the major clubs in Spain will be music to the FA’s years. Neville will remain part of the England setup, and he will also earn valuable experience at a Champions League club to enhance his managerial CV to the requisite level of the England job.
Neville’s urge to prove himself at the highest level might not be beneficial for England only; his former club Manchester United haven’t yet managed to replace Sir Alex Ferguson in the dugout and Neville’s time at Valencia will be watched with interest by the Manchester United hierarchy and fans alike. His Mestalla regime will likely determine where he ends up in a few years down the line.
What has been seen as a big hole in Sky Sports’ coverage of the Premier League which will, no doubt, disappoint fans could yet become a short-term sacrifice for a longer-term gain for England and English football as a whole. Louis van Gaal’s Red Devils have faced a fair amount of stick this season for their style of football, and with each passing game, there is an increment in the number of fans calling for the Dutchman’s head.
Van Gaal is likely to see out his current contract, which expires after the 2016/17 season, and should things go along expected lines, which include Neville being successful at Valencia to the extent of global recognition, there is every chance we could see the Class of 92 ruling the roost in the United dugout.
“Valencia are a huge club of immense standing and I know from my time as a player the passion and dedication of the Valencia fans,” said Neville on his new job. The fact Valencia aren’t one of the absolute elite clubs makes it easier to believe the Bury-born Neville can use his new job as a launchpad to the elite, potentially England and Manchester United due to his strong ties with both.
It has been well-documented Neville landed the Valencia job because of his strong ties with the club’s owner, Peter Lim. But the whole thing is of little significance as long as Valencia don’t sink to unprecedented depths. Neville has a top job without prior experience and has his brother Phil alongside him, and will undoubtedly view the game with broader eyes now that he is no longer in England.
Like Hodgson said: “This [the Valencia job] will be an extra string to his [Neville’s] bow and the experience he will gain working in the Spanish league can only be beneficial to our work together with the England team,” England will be richer with Neville plying his trade abroad, and so will be Manchester United. No manager in the world doesn’t think about filling the shoes of Ferguson one day, and the road for Neville is clear: succeed at Valencia, land one of the two highest profile jobs in the world.