England assistant coach Gary Neville has delayed joining up with Roy Hodgson’s squad for this month’s friendlies against Germany and the Netherlands so he can focus on putting things right with his beleaguered Valencia team.
Neville’s struggling side suffered a third consecutive league defeat on Sunday in a 2-0 home loss to Celta Vigo and supporters at the Mestalla chanted “Neville go now” in unison for the first time since he took charge in December.
“I have just spoken to Roy Hodgson and am going to stay back in Valencia. I feel it’s the right thing to do,” Neville told a news conference after the match.
Last week the 41-year-old ex-England full back reiterated his plans to be with the England players at the start of the international break to prepare for the Germany game in Berlin on Saturday and the visit of the Dutch three days later.
But after a chastening defeat by Celta, which leaves Valencia 14th in La Liga and just six points above the relegation zone, Neville said he would not now be joining the England squad until next Thursday.
“Obviously it’s not an ideal situation, in respect to the fact that before I cam here I was the assistant coach for the national team of England, with 60 million people, but I understand the two or three million people in Valencia need my attention this week,” Neville added.
“The last thing I want is for people here to say Gary Neville lacks commitment, because it’s not something that’s ever been said about me in my life.
“Obviously I have a dual role, at this moment in time. I’ve been England coach for three and a half years and I’ve loved doing that. These are friendly matches, very important matches for England, but I also have three very important days here coaching the players.
“I said last week I’ve come to love this club and this city, and I want to give my all to the club, they deserve nothing less.”
The defeat by Celta came three days after Valencia were eliminated from the Europa League in the round of 16 by fellow Spanish side Athletic Bilbao on away goals, despite beating the Basques 2-1 at the Mestalla.
Neville has won just three league games since succeeding Nuno Espirito Santo as Valencia coach, drawing five and losing eight, and his side were knocked out of the Copa del Rey at the semifinal stage, losing 8-1 to holders Barcelona on aggregate.