Sport Soccer

Saturday 3 December 2016

Ayestaran sought Neville blessing

Jamie Holland

Published 01/04/2016 | 02:30

Gary Neville (Reuters)
Gary Neville (Reuters)

New Valencia coach Pako Ayestaran admits he would not have accepted the job had predecessor Gary Neville not given his blessing.

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Neville was sacked by Valencia on Wednesday, just four months into a troubled tenure which saw Los Che pick up just 10 wins from 28 games.

Ayestaran, who Neville brought to the Mestalla in February as an assistant, was put in charge until the end of the season with the primary goal of ensuring Valencia stay clear of relegation trouble.

The 53-year-old said he is “grateful” to have been given the opportunity to lead Valencia, but admits he would have turned down the offer if he had not received the green light from Neville.

Ayestaran, who was formerly Rafael Benitez’s assistant at Valencia and Liverpool, told a press conference yesterday: “When they offered me the role I had two conditions.

“The first was that Gary was in agreement, and if Gary hadn’t agreed I wouldn’t be here, because my values come above everything else.

“The second was that I come with my coaching team.

“The feeling I have at the moment is fantastic. I’m grateful to the club for offering me the chance to lead the project until the end of the season and I will contribute my knowledge, experience, passion, determination and ability to work.”

Ayestaran added of Neville: “He did a huge amount of work and he gave everything for the club, but it wasn’t enough.”

Neville was a surprise appointment when he replaced Nuno Espirito Santo as Valencia coach in December, the former Manchester United and England defender having never previously managed at professional level while being unable to speak Spanish.

The 41-year-old’s deal was due to run until the end of the season but, with Valencia having been knocked out of the Copa del Rey and Europa League as well as slumping to within six points of the relegation zone, the board decided to act.

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