Football: Neville 'picked on merit and not links'

Valencia players celebrating a goal in their 2-1 Champions League win over Ghent in October. The Spanish team must beat Lyon on Wednesday and hope the Belgian side do not overcome Russian Group H winners Zenit in order to make the round of 16.
Valencia players celebrating a goal in their 2-1 Champions League win over Ghent in October. The Spanish team must beat Lyon on Wednesday and hope the Belgian side do not overcome Russian Group H winners Zenit in order to make the round of 16.PHOTO: REUTERS

Though a business partner of owner, he's a good coach with right qualities: Chairman

VALENCIA • Valencia have dismissed talk of Gary Neville's connections with club owner Peter Lim as the reason for his appointment as the club's new manager.

The Nevilles have a business relationship with Lim, who was in attendance when the club officially unveiled the 40-year-old as manager yesterday.

The Singapore billionaire has a stake in Salford City, an English non-league club co-owned by Neville and brother Phil, along with ex-Manchester United stars Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt.

Speaking to a packed press conference, Valencia chairman Chan Lay Hoon said: "Gary is an excellent coach, with all the qualities that Valencia need right now."

"He is a leader and hugely respected in football, his personal experience of success will help inspire our players. Peter and I have known Gary for many years and we see something very special in him," added the Singaporean.

"This appointment is not about nationality and not about his friendship with Peter, it is about his qualities to lead Valencia at this time."

Neville is Valencia's 15th manager in as many years.

His task in his first foray into management is to revive the fortunes at Valencia - six-time La Liga champions and two-time Champions League runners-up.

The club are ninth in Spain's top flight, five points adrift of the fourth Champions League place.

"I'm very aware of the traditions at Valencia - I came up against some fantastic Valencia wingers in my time as a player," said the former United defender.

"My responsibility is to appraise the players as quickly as possible and pick the best system that allows us to win straight away.

"We don't have a pre-season. It's important to pick the right team to win matches, irrespective of style."

Former United manager Alex Ferguson has backed his old skipper to thrive at the Mestalla.

"His leadership skills are strong, he's honest and he's hard-working," the 73-year-old told Sky Sports, after Neville became the 29th player - who played under him at Old Trafford - to move into management.

"He is the type of character who is not afraid of making big decisions, which is a vital skill when leading. I think he'll do well and I wish him, and his brother Phil (Neville's assistant), good luck."

Neville arrived in Spain yesterday and was shown around the club's training ground by Chan before his official unveiling. He greeted the first team - just hours after they returned to Valencia from their 3-1 King's Cup win at Barakaldo.

Goals from Joao Cancelo, Jose Luis Gaya and Dani Parejo in the first leg put Los Che well on course for the last 16.

Valencia will next face champions Barcelona in La Liga tomorrow. Neville will not take charge of the match at the Mestalla, leaving his younger brother and interim manager Salvador Gonzalez in charge.

Neville's first game is a must-win home fixture against Lyon in the Champions League on Wednesday.

"We are waiting for Gary Neville, to see his ideas and to try to assimilate them quickly," Gaya said.

"Phil told us some ideas that he has but we have to wait a few days.

"He will try to bring out the best in us and we are happy (with the appointment)."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2015, with the headline 'NEVILLE 'PICKED ON MERIT AND NOT LINKS''. Print Edition | Subscribe