Football: Sacking rumours ridiculous, says Neville

Valencia head coach Gary Neville reacts during their Spanish Liga Primera Division football match against Sporting Gijon.
Valencia head coach Gary Neville reacts during their Spanish Liga Primera Division football match against Sporting Gijon. PHOTO: EPA

MADRID • Valencia manager Gary Neville claimed it is "ridiculous" his short tenure at the club may soon become untenable after his winless streak in La Liga stretched to eight games with a 1-0 home defeat by Sporting Gijon on Sunday.

A first defeat at Mestalla in the league since November 2014 sees Valencia sit perilously just five points above the relegation zone.

But Neville reacted angrily when pressed on whether the board, led by Singaporean owner Peter Lim, may replace him before his contract runs out at the end of the season under pressure from the fans.

Lim harbours Champions League hopes but Valencia have slipped to 12th place - 19 points adrift of fourth-placed Villarreal.

They have not won in 11 La Liga games in total, including under previous coach Nuno Espirito Santo.

"You're asking me about my position. I find this question ridiculous," said Neville. "It's from you, don't put this onto the fans."

PROVOCATION

You're asking me about my position. I find this question ridiculous. It's from you, don't put this onto the fans.''

GARY NEVILLE, Valencia coach, slamming reporters on their line of questioning.

Neville was booed off by the Valencia fans after the full-time whistle. And a police cordon had to be set up outside the stadium after the game to separate an angry group of supporters from the players' cars as they left the ground.

Despite losing for the third time since he took charge, Neville's men produced one of their better performances in recent weeks.

However, they were made to pay for missing a series of chances, most notably through captain Alvaro Negredo, while Antonio Sarabia's penalty early in the second half handed Sporting Gijon all three points.

"I think I've had 14 matches here and that is a performance I can relate to," added Neville.

"I can sleep at night knowing there are improvements structurally in the team, but that game should have been four or five-one or nil in my opinion."

The one positive of his reign has been Valencia's run to the semi-finals of the King's Cup. Yet they face a daunting task if they are to reach the final for the first time since 2008 as they travel to European champions Barcelona for the first leg of the tie tomorrow.

"I can't wait for Wednesday night, and I think the players will be the same," insisted the former Manchester United captain.

"These are the moments you live for as a coach, as a player. By Tuesday we'll have a full complement of players, Paco (Alcacer) is back running again, and I don't think we've picked up injuries today."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2016, with the headline 'Sacking rumours ridiculous: Neville'. Print Edition | Subscribe