Humiliating 7-0 defeat raises questions over future of former TV pundit.
Gary Neville says he will not resign as Valencia manager after his side was thrashed 7-0 at the Camp Nou by Barcelona on Wednesday night.
After a match that was described by the club’s sporting director, Suso García Pitarch, as “one of the worst results in our history,” Neville was asked on three occasions whether he intended to step down.
“No,” was his initial response. When the question was asked again, Neville said: “next question”. The third time, he replied: “Next question. I have answered that before. I think I was very clear.
“This was one of my most painful nights in football,” said Neville, after watching Luis Suarez (four goals) and Lionel Messi (three) dismantle his fragile defence.
Neville, a former pundit for Sky Sports, admitted that if had been analysing his side’s performance, he would have been “critical”, adding: “The scoreline is unacceptable. I have not enjoyed tonight. I won’t sleep well tonight. I didn’t like what I saw.
“The fans didn’t deserve that tonight. We have to recover incredibly quickly”. But he insisted that he would not throw in the towel, despite a difficult start to his managerial career.
“Positivity has been immovable in my life,” he said. “I last had doubts as a player 18 years ago and from that moment on I developed a mechanism to deal with situations like this. Be clear, we have to deliver on Sunday [against Real Betis].”
Valencia have not won in the eight league games since Neville took over in December. Last weekend they lost 1-0 to Sporting Gijón at the Mestalla, the first time they had been beaten at home in the league since November 2014.
García Pitarch was asked afterwards by Canal Plus about Neville’s position at the club.
“This isn’t a day to give any explanations and simply to recognise that we have done things very badly and we have to rectify it in any way we can,” García Pitarch said.
“We apologise to our fans for one of the worst days and one of the worst results in our history. Asked again, he responded: “Simply, we have to reflect [on this] internally.”
García Pitarch was then asked if he had spoken to the club’s owner Peter Lim and whether he still supported the manager.
“I speak with [the director] Lay Hoon every day, I don’t normally speak with Peter Lim,” he replied. “We have had a meeting to see what our reflections were on the game. These are internal reflections [to be made] inside the club and there are many things to evaluate. Today is the worst day to try to give explanations. Our fans don’t deserve a result like this.”
He added: “We know what we have to do. We know the situation the club is in is difficult. We have to reflect internally whilst recognising we have caused tremendous disappointment to our fans.”