Neville to stay, as fans chant 'go now'

MADRID • Gary Neville will delay joining the England football squad in preparation for their friendlies against Germany and the Netherlands until Thursday, after his Valencia side slumped to a 2-0 home defeat by Celta Vigo on Sunday.

The English manager endured chants of "donkey" and "Gary go now" towards the end of Valencia's third consecutive La Liga loss, provoking a rethink of his initial decision to also fulfil his duties as an assistant to England manager Roy Hodgson.

He said: "I have just spoken to Roy Hodgson and I am going to stay back in Valencia. The players train Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday this week. I feel it's the right thing to do.

"Obviously it's not an ideal situation. I'm the assistant coach for the national team of England, with 60 million people, but I understand the two or three million people in Valencia need my attention this week.

"The last thing I want is for people here to say Gary Neville lacks commitment, because it's not something that's ever been said about me in my life."

England travel to world champions Germany on Saturday before hosting the Netherlands next Tuesday

Neville, 41, has won just three of 16 league games to leave Valencia six points above the relegation zone in 14th place, with eight games to go.

Barcelona, meanwhile, squandered the chance to go 11 points clear at the top on Sunday after blowing a two-goal lead in the space of six minutes in a 2-2 draw at Villarreal.

Ivan Rakitic and a controversial Neymar penalty had Barca on course for a 13th consecutive La Liga win before half-time.

Yet, Villarreal were more than worthy of a point and got their reward after the break, through Cedric Bakambu and Jeremy Mathieu's own goal.

Barca regained their composure in the final quarter to ensure their unbeaten run in all competitions stretches to 39.

They are nine points clear of nearest challengers Atletico Madrid, who suffered a shock 2-1 defeat by Sporting Gijon on Saturday.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2016, with the headline 'Neville to stay, as fans chant 'go now''. Print Edition | Subscribe