Monday 26 September 2016

Neville to stay on for daunting Barca return

Paul Hirst

Published 09/02/2016 | 02:30

Valencia coach Gary Neville is still waiting for his first league victory. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire
Valencia coach Gary Neville is still waiting for his first league victory. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

Gary Neville looks set to take his place at the Mestalla against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey tomorrow despite supporter unrest.

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Two months after being appointed Valencia coach, Neville is still waiting for his first league victory. His winless run reached nine matches on Sunday in the 1-0 defeat at Real Betis.

That result, four days after a 7-0 hammering at Barcelona in the first leg of the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey, led to protests from Valencia fans.

Neville refused to speak to a small group of disgruntled supporters who waited for him outside the stadium on Sunday, but he did approach some of the fans who had gathered to meet the squad at Valencia airport following the team's flight back.

Neville shook the hand of one fan, who told him he was "a good coach", but then added: "Your place isn't here."

When the team coach arrived at the club's training ground on Sunday night, around 50 supporters yelled "Gary, vete ya" ("Gary, go now"). Some fans shouted "hijo de puta" ("son of a bitch") at the English coach when he drove away in his car later.

Having dropped to 13th in the league, just four points above the relegation zone, speculation was rife that owner Peter Lim would fire Neville, his friend and business partner, but it was a case of business as usual yesterday.

Neville took training and Valencia confirmed he would hold his regular press conference today to preview the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final.

Goalkeeper Matthew Ryan, meanwhile, has called for unity before the match, where things could turn ugly for Neville again if his team are hammered once more. "I know that for the fans it is difficult to understand what is happening," the Australian told Valencia's website.

"We are doing everything possible to turn the situation around. The only way we can get out of this situation is to be together like a family." (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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