Barcelona Have No Answer To The Combined Might Of Gary & Phil Neville

Posted: December 6, 2015 in European Football, Football, Managers, Opinion, Spain
Tags: , , , , ,


(Gary picks up his first “Manager of the Month” award in Valencia and wonders if this is an example of what is to follow)

I watched Gary Neville’s first game when not officially in charge of Valencia. He sat in the stands jumping at every header, moving sideways every time the ball did. He was doing what all passionate managers do, he was living the game, kicking every ball and feeling every tackle.

In fairness, he was right to wait until after this game to take charge. Anything could have happened against Barcelona. Messi was fit again and was alongside the other two musketeers in Suarez and Neymar. If Barcelona scored five, Gary could always say that it “wasn’t on his watch”. He had also had very little time to get to know the players, so it was right that he allowed little brother and Voro to remain in charge for this game.

As it happened, Barcelona had “one of those days”, where they just couldn’t finish off any of their moves, except one, created, perpetuated and finished by Suarez which made us ask, at the time, how many would Barcelona score? The answer was a very simple, “one!” Despite having the majority of possession, hardly an unusual trait for a Barcelona team, they failed to convert the chances they created, and they created a few.

Valencia grew in confidence at seeing Barcelona fail to increase their lead and came more into the game themselves. It was however, a slight surprise when they equalised through nineteen-year-old Santi Mina on the counter-attack.

At the end of the day, a draw was a fortuitous result for Valencia and Gary Neville will not have been fooled into thinking that this is going to be an easy job. Although a 1-1 draw against the best club side in the world was laudable, it was also a reminder of what this Valencia team can achieve when they apply themselves, something Neville will be looking to tap into when he takes full control on Sunday.

Valencia should be challenging for a top four place and Neville, even though he lacks managerial experience, will bust a gut to make sure that that happens. Success or failure, there is no way that he will ever be accused of not trying.

The bottom line with this performance is that The Valencia players appeared to be playing for the badge again. This is something that had disappeared in the last few games of Nuno Santo. Maybe they have been told that there will be no easy ride under Gary Neville. Maybe they just want to try and impress their new manager. Whatever the case may be, there are good players there who just need leadership and pointing in the right direction.

After the game, in the Sky studio, the opinions of David Moyes and Guillem Balague were sought. Balague is a sensible observer of the game who does not claim to have any special knowledge of the rudimentary aspects of a game of football. He has contacts in Spain and is basically a football reporter. He was invited because he is Spanish.

David Moyes was invited to give his opinions of the match despite the fact that he failed abysmally in England after he left Everton for a bigger club, (whether or not he was given sufficient time), then failed again when he decided that he would go to Spain. He spent his whole tenure in Spain living in a hotel and learning sufficient Spanish to enable him to count to four!

He was fired from Real Sociedad just before he would have taken them into the Spanish second division

This, of course, qualifies him massively to tell the footballing public all about Spanish football. He is obviously an expert! He went to all the restaurants in Sociedad, he drank the wine, he ate the tapas, so what! Tourists on holiday for a fortnight do all that!

He gave advice to Gary Neville as to how he should approach the job. He gave him pointers as to how it works in Spain. He advised about the difference in culture. All in all, he gave advice to Gary Neville that he would be very wise to completely ignore. It was advice from a person who was an abject failure in the country he is now being called upon to pass comment upon as an expert. Yes, Moyes is now an expert, he knows what it is like to fail in Spain as well was in England.

Moyes has proven to be the quintessential Brit. He didn’t embrace the culture, he didn’t learn the language and he isn’t a particularly good manager, certainly not abroad, therefore, because of these oversights, he failed. Gary Neville, although less experienced, will not make the same mistakes.


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