Gary Neville looks set to take his place in the home dugout at the Mestalla for Valencia’s match against Barcelona on Wednesday despite recent supporter unrest against him.
Two months after being appointed Valencia boss, Neville is still waiting for his first league win in management. The former Manchester United captain stretched his winless run to nine matches on Sunday when Valencia lost 1-0 to Real Betis.
The defeat, which came four days after a 7-0 hammering at Barcelona in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey, led to angry protests from Valencia fans.
Neville refused to speak to a small group of disgruntled Valencia supporters who waited for him outside the stadium in Seville on Sunday, but the 40-year-old did approach some of the fans who had gathered to meet the squad at Valencia airport following the team’s flight back from Andalucia.
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”, which translates as “Gary, go now”. Some fans shouted “hijo de puta” (son of a b****) at the England 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 on Monday for the Valencia boss.
Neville took training on Monday morning and Valencia confirmed the former England and United full-back would hold his regular press conference on Tuesday to preview the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final.
Given the scoreline of last week’s first leg, Valencia are now 5,000-1 shots to overturn Barca’s seven-goal advantage on this week and then beat either Sevilla or Celta Vigo in the final.
Goalkeeper Matthew Ryan, meanwhile, has called for unity ahead of the match at the Mestalla, 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 official website.
“We are doing everything possible to bring them happiness and turn the situation around.
“The only way we can get out of this situation is to be together like a family.”
Neville received some good news on Monday after captain and top scorer Paco Alcacer returned to full training.
The 22-year-old, who has scored 11 goals for Valencia this season, missed the club’s last five games with ankle and knee ligament damage.