Football: Neville says no to quitting

Valencia goalkeeper Matthew Ryan and defender Aderlan Santos down in the dumps after conceding their sixth goal during the King's Cup semi-final first-leg match at the Nou Camp. It ended 7-0 to Barcelona.
Valencia goalkeeper Matthew Ryan and defender Aderlan Santos down in the dumps after conceding their sixth goal during the King's Cup semi-final first-leg match at the Nou Camp. It ended 7-0 to Barcelona.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Valencia boss' future uncertain after 7-0 rout by Barca in King's Cup adds to La Liga woes

BARCELONA • Gary Neville insisted that he had no intention of resigning as Valencia manager after his side were thrashed 7-0 by Barcelona in their Copa del Rey semi-final first-leg tie on Wednesday.

However, the club's sporting director Suso Garcia Pitarch described it as "one of the worst results in our history" and evaded questions about the Englishman's future at Mestalla.

Neville was asked three times if he was thinking of resigning after four goals from Luis Suarez and three from Lionel Messi saw his side being humiliated at Nou Camp.

He replied "no" to the first question. When the issue was raised again, with Neville asked if he would understand it if he was sacked, he said: "next question". The third time, he replied: "Next question. I have answered that before. I think I was very clear."

Valencia have not won in eight league games since Neville took over in December, and last weekend they lost 0-1 to Sporting Gijon - the first time they had been beaten at home in the league since 2014.

LEARN AND MOVE ON

This isn't a day to give any explanations and simply to recognise that we have done things very badly and we have to rectify it in any way we can.

SUSO GARCIA PITARCH, Valencia sporting director, responding to the team's defeat.

The Copa del Rey had come as a welcome distraction - until Wednesday, when they were handed their worst Cup defeat since 1928. And it could have been even worse as Neymar hit the post from the penalty spot in the first half after Shkodran Mustafi was sent off for bringing down Messi.

"This was one of my most painful days in football," said Neville, who promised to pick up his team for Sunday's La Liga trip to Real Betis.

"I need to make sure everything in the players' minds now shifts to Betis. Be clear, we have to deliver on Sunday."

Yet Valencia defender Mustafi suggested that will be a tough task.

"The dressing room is in the s**t at the moment, but I still believe in this team," said the German international.

Garcia Pitarch apologised to the club's notoriously demanding fan base and admitted he had met club president Chan Lay Hoon after the match. The club's Singaporean owner Peter Lim was not at the Nou Camp but compatriot Chan had watched the mauling from the directors' box.

Pushed by TV channel Canal Plus to confirm Neville's continuity at the club, Garcia Pitarch refused to give the former Manchester United defender his full backing.

"This isn't a day to give any explanations and simply to recognise that we have done things very badly and we have to rectify it in any way we can," he said.

"We apologise to our fans for one of the worst days and one of the worst results in our history."

Asked again, he responded: "Simply, we have to reflect (on this) internally."

But former Valencia goalkeeper Santiago Canizares - who was sceptical about Neville's appointment when the club gave the 40-year-old his first head-coach role - has heaped pressure on Neville.

Canizares, who won the La Liga title twice with Valencia, tweeted: "VCF's defeat today is the worst I've known since I can remember. I'm waiting for the resignation of the coach, as well as an apology.

"I may be ignorant, but I'm surprised he hasn't done it, I thought he was honest."

The Spanish press were also scathing in their assessment. "Seven goals and a funeral," read Marca's headline, while Super Deporte described it as "insulting".

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 05, 2016, with the headline 'NEVILLE SAYS NO TO QUITTING'. Print Edition | Subscribe