The Spanish sporting press is calling for Gary Neville’s head after the Valencia manager oversaw what is very likely the worst loss in the club’s 96-year history: a 7-0 destruction in the Copa del Rey at the hands of Barcelona.
Although there is still a second leg to play, four goals from Luis Suarez and a hat-trick from Lionel Messi have all but assured Valencia’s exit from this year’s cup. There is quite simply no team on Earth capable of overhauling such a deficit and at the moment, it doesn’t look as if anything can stop Barcelona from storming to a domestic double of league and cup.
Neville called the loss the “most painful experience” in his football career, but the former Manchester United defender and TV pundit has so far refused to give in to calls for his resignation.
Neville hasn’t had the easiest time of it since taking charge at the Mestalla back in December: after a run of eight La Liga matches without a win, the rookie coach has now seen his team’s chances of advancing in the cup obliterated. Although he admitted the defeat would trouble his ability to get a good night sleep, he issued a firm “no” when asked if he would tender his resignation.
Neville and his players were greeted by a crowd of angry fans at Manises airport when they returned to Valencia from the Catalan capital. They also were met with a similar reception when they returned to the club’s training ground. However, despite all of this, Neville remains firm in his resolve to remain in charge.
While club sporting director, Jesus Garcia Pitarch apologized to Valencia’s fans for one of the worst defeats in the club’s history, he refused to speculate on Neville’s future, telling reporters “I never talk about tactical or team things.”
So it looks as if Neville is set to remain in charge for the time being as Valencia looks to climb out of the bottom rungs of the La Liga table. Currently, Valencia hovers just five points above the relegation zone. Though they’ve held the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid to draws this season, Valencia are without a win in the league since November 5, when they hammered Celta Vigo 5-1.
Meanwhile, Valencia’s tormenters, Barcelona remain in the driver’s seat in La Liga and on current trajectory, could be in-line for another historic treble.
While Valencia will try and improve their fortunes as they travel to Real Betis this weekend, Barcelona face a trip to Valencia to face the city’s other team, Levante.