Only ability counted in Neville pick, says Peter Lim

Peter Lim during the interview with the Valencia website. The owner is happy that he has brought financial stability to the club.
Peter Lim during the interview with the Valencia website. The owner is happy that he has brought financial stability to the club.PHOTO: VALENCIA CF

Famously media-shy but known for his friendship with football's luminaries, Peter Lim set tongues wagging when he appointed Gary Neville recently as the new coach of Valencia, the Spanish La Liga club whom he owns.

And the Singaporean billionaire insisted in a rare video interview on the club's website yesterday that the decision to hire the former Manchester United right-back was a footballing one.

Lim explained: "I picked Gary not because he is a good friend; Gary is a good coach, who happened to be a friend. I think that has to be very clear to everyone.

"I knew him for a while and his football knowledge is tremendous.

"He is top pundit in the UK.

"I chose him because of his knowledge of football and everything that is around football."

Lim added that he is sure Neville "can hold this team together".

In the 10-minute interview, the former remisier king also reviewed his first year as a football club owner, spoke about his long-term goals for Valencia and sent his Christmas greetings to the fans.

He said: "In the first year, what made me happiest is that the financial stability of the club is very, very clear. The system is there. We are still on the way but I think definitely this is our biggest achievement.

"The best thing we did was to be able financially to put the club in the position to compete at a high level. Of course, my long-term goal for this club is to put ourselves in a position where we can compete at a very high level every year, without stressing the system."

Last month, Portuguese tactician Nuno Espirito Santo resigned amid heckling from the terraces, six months after he led the team to a top-four finish and a Champions League place. Valencia are currently ninth in La Liga on 22 points, 13 behind joint leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.

As he wished the fans well for the festive season, Lim also appealed for their patience, saying: "Currently, La Liga is at a very high level. Even the bottom team can beat you. My message to the fans is you have to be patient with players.

"It's just that everybody makes mistakes. If we have an off-day, we have to encourage them.

"The fans are very important to them and affect the mood of the players very much. Sometimes, once you get them down, it is difficult to get it back quickly."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 24, 2015, with the headline 'Only ability counted in Neville pick: Lim'. Print Edition | Subscribe