Saturday 21 April 2018

Gary Neville confronted by angry Valencia fans following Barcelona drubbing

Valencia coach Gary Neville
Valencia coach Gary Neville

Gary Neville faced the wrath of furious fans following his Valencia side's Copa del Rey capitulation against Barcelona - but insisted he would not quit.

Neville was called on to resign and apologise by former Valencia goalkeeper Santiago Canizares in the wake of the 7-0 semi-final first-leg defeat at the Nou Camp which has turned up the heat on the under-fire boss.

The former Manchester United defender, his staff, including brother and assistant Phil, and players were confronted by angry supporters after returning home to their training base at Ciudad Deportiva de Paterna, with pictures showing fans venting their spleen at Neville.

The 40-year-old has vowed to fight on, but he did not receive the clear backing of sporting director Jesus Garcia Pitarch, while Canizares said the Englishman would quit if he was "honest".

Neville, who has failed to win any of his eight Primera Division matches since taking charge, takes his side to struggling Real Betis on Sunday, and another loss will drag the club further into a relegation fight and increase the pressure on the England coach yet further.

Four goals from Luis Suarez and a hat-trick from Lionel Messi destroyed Valencia on Wednesday night, with the hosts also missing a penalty through Neymar and Valencia having Shkodran Mustafi sent off.

Pitarch said it was "not the day to talk about the future" during television interviews following the defeat. This day you can't explain. We must apologise to fans for one of the worst results in our history," he said.

Canizares, who played for Valencia in two Champions League finals, was scathing of Neville, saying on Twitter: "I expected the coach's resignation, as well as some apologies. I may be ignorant, but I'm surprised he hasn't done it, I thought he was honest.

"If Garcia Pitarch trusts in Gary as he said on Monday, I'm disappointed. If it's not like that, why did he say that? If (Garcia Pitarch) lied to us, and tomorrow he proposes the sacking of the coach and it's not accepted, it's best if (Garcia Pitarch) leaves as well. Worse than the loss, is giving up in the fight. We are facing a test of fire. To demand decisions is responsible, to give up isn't."

Neville himself was defiant in his post-match press conference, replying "no" when asked outright if he would resign. Another reporter asked whether Neville thought it was "logical" that he could now be dismissed; his blunt response was: "Next question." Neville said his greatest concern was for the Valencia fans, who have jeered the team in recent games at the Mestalla.

"Tonight for some reason we went back a big step," he said. "The Valencia fans did not deserve that and I feel most for them. It's their club and they are the ones that have been with this club all their lives and they're suffering very badly."

Neville insisted he had a "mechanism" for dealing with nights like this one and said he last experienced doubts 18 years ago during his playing career. My positivity is immovable in life but when you have moments like this you don't enjoy them at all," he said.

"I felt helpless, trying to change things in some way but knowing the tide of the game was against us. That scoreline is unacceptable. The reality of me is that I last had doubts as a player 18 years ago and from that moment onwards I developed a mechanism to deal with moments like this.

"I've just said to the players in the changing room now - 'forget (the defeat), everything in your mind now shifts to Betis.' Be absolutely clear, we have to deliver on Sunday."

It could well be a match which makes or breaks Neville's managerial career at the Mestalla.

Press Association

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport