Valencia owner Peter Lim has defended his decision to name Gary Neville as coach – and says the decision was based on merit and not on their friendship.
Neville was handed his first head-coach role on a deal to the end of the season by the Singaporean businessman after Nuno Espirito Santo was sacked in November.
The announcement came as something of a surprise given his lack of experience in a top job, with his appointment taking its place in our list of the top 10 biggest football stories of 2015.
There have been claims that Neville’s relationship with Lim – who is a co-owner of Salford City with Neville – helped his chances.
However, Lim has rejected those reports and says the 40-year-old was hired because he is the right man to restore glory at the former Spanish champions.
“I picked Gary not because he is a good friend; Gary is a good coach, who happened to be a friend,” Lim told the club’s official website.
“I think that has to be very clear to everyone. I look at him, he has got the potential in him, I knew him for a while and his football knowledge is tremendous.
“He is a top pundit in the UK. I chose him because of his knowledge of football and everything that is around football.
“So as interim manager for the rest of the season, I think that it suits me and I think it will suit the club very well to have him see through the period, and we’ll take it from there. That is how I look at it.”
“I am very confident about him, the only shortfall is maybe the language. But I believe he can overcome it, because he is a very determined person.
“More important is his experience, not only as a manager but his playing days, I think he can hold this team together. We have a very young team.
“I know a lot of people say ‘oh no, he has never been a coach’, but I do believe that he has got the ability to become a good coach.”
Neville has nevertheless only managed to deliver one win – a 2-0 win over Spanish minnows Barakaldo in the Copa del Rey – in four games, and will be determined to improve that record when Valencia travel to Villarreal on New Year’s eve.