What went wrong during Gary Neville's first game as Valencia boss?

Graham Hunter spoke to Off The Ball about Neville's maiden game in charge of the Spanish side

BY Cian Roche 15:34 Friday 11 December 2015, 15:34 11 Dec 2015

y: John Walton / EMPICS Sport

There was to be no fairytale end to Gary Neville's first game in charge of Valencia, his side slumped to a 2-0 home defeat to Lyon on Wednesday night and now face the prospect of Europa League football.

Amidst the delirium of his appointment and the draw against champions Barcelona last Saturday night, you would be forgiven for thinking that success of the side was going to be immediate.

On Thursday night's Off The Ball, Graham Hunter explained that the defeat was not as simple as an under-performing team.

"Gary told me off camera that within the first quarter of an hour that they were under major threat of not winning the game" he said, "because their legs just ran out of gas."

"They put in such an effort against Barcelona, which wasn't a particularly pretty game. But against the treble winners, they blocked them, they scored a cracking goal and worked so, so hard. That was a microcosm of what we had seen in previous years."

It was only after the opening exchanges were the French side in control of the game.

"What happened was that by the first quarter of an hour had been played against Lyon at the Mestalla, Lyon recognised that they could pick them off."

Only victory would have given Valencia a chance of progressing through to the knockout stages, but with their elimination comes the possibility of facing Manchester United in Europe's much maligned Europa League.

Valencia manager Gary Neville with Alvaro Negredo on the touchline during their defeat to Lyon. Image: John Walton / EMPICS Sport

Hunter went on to explain that although there is confidence within the club, there won't be an overnight fix for the club's problems.

"I think it's a multi-layered thing: he's not a magician. He can't get players who have been missing through injury back to match fitness straight away. He recognises that because he's been battling six and seven injuries at a time that, there hasn't been a physical equilibrium in the squad because of this."

You can listen to the full interview with Graham Hunter during last night's football show by clicking the podcast below.


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