New Valencia coach Pako Ayestaran admits he would not have accepted the job had predecessor Gary Neville not given his blessing.
Neville was sacked by Valencia on Wednesday, just four months into a troubled tenure which saw Los Che pick up just 10 wins from 28 games.
Ayestaran, who Neville brought to the Mestalla in February as an assistant, was put in charge until the end of the season with the primary goal of ensuring Valencia stay clear of relegation trouble.
The 53-year-old said he is “grateful” to have been given the opportunity to lead Valencia, but admits he would have turned down the offer if he had not received the green light from Neville.
Ayestaran, who was formerly Rafael Benitez’s assistant at Valencia and Liverpool, told a press conference on Thursday: “When they offered me the role I had two conditions.
“The first was that Gary was in agreement, and if Gary hadn’t agreed I wouldn’t be here, because my values come above everything else.
“The second was that I come with my coaching team.
“The feeling I have at the moment is fantastic. I’m grateful to the club for offering me the chance to lead the project until the end of the season and I will contribute my knowledge, experience, passion, determination and ability to work.”
Ayestaran added of Neville: “He did a huge amount of work and he gave everything for the club, but it wasn’t enough.”
Neville was a surprise appointment when he replaced Nuno Espirito Santo as Valencia coach in December, the former Manchester United and England defender having never previously managed at professional level while being unable to speak Spanish.
The 41-year-old’s deal was due to run until the end of the season but, with Valencia having been knocked out of the Copa del Rey and Europa League as well as slumping to within six points of the relegation zone, the board decided to act.
Sporting director Jesus Garcia Pitarch said at the same press conference as Ayestaran, which was also attended by Valenica president Layhoon Chan: “After the RFEF assembly, last Tuesday, I travelled with Kim Koh and Layhoon to Singapore and for several days we analysed the situation that we found ourselves in and wanted to resolve.
“When we took the decision to replace Gary we invited Pako to come to Singapore and meet with Peter (Lim) to weigh up the situation and so that Pako could explain what he could do for the club.”
Garcia Pitarch added of Neville: “The results are not only down to him. I send Gary my best wishes and my respect. I’ve worked with a lot of coaches and he’s one of the best colleagues I’ve had.”
Valencia travel to Las Palmas this weekend having lost four of their last five league games. In their final seven games, 14th-placed Valencia still have to play Barcelona, Real Madrid, Sevilla and Villarreal.
Chan said: “I want to thank Pako for accepting this challenge at a difficult time.
“Pako has already spent several years at the club in the past, and we are excited because he has expressed his desire to lead the team.
“I would like to say to everyone that we are going through a difficult time and that we are all suffering, but it is important for me to tell you all that we should remember that we are a strong club.
“We have never been so strong in our history.
“This season is not over, we will fight in every game until the end and we need everyone united.”