The Neville Brothers. Two boys from Bury in positions of power in Valencia. Who woulda thunk it?
By Matty Lawrence
Imagine not being able to do anything in life without being trumped by your brother. You are blessed with football talent and you play for Manchester United: your brother plays more times. You finally make the majestic step up and play for your country. But your brother has been there, done that and played more times. So, you think, “Bugger this,” and take yourself off to Spain after your career ends and take up the coveted position of coach at Valencia FC. What an honour, what an achievement and massive plaudits for taking yourself out of your comfort zone.
Meet The New Boss
Well, blow me down, five minutes later your brother shows up and becomes your new boss. Bloody liberty. Poor old Phil. Honestly, when I woke up to the news this morning that Gary Neville had been appointed head coach at Valencia, I really couldn’t believe my eyes. How on earth is this even possible?
I love him as a pundit on Sky Sports ‘n’ all and I’m sure he puts out a magnificent cone when in his part-time position as England coach, but head coach of a big-time La Liga team like Valencia? Do me a favour. Where on earth are his qualifications? Please don’t point me towards his coaching badges, or his absolutely glittering playing career. None of that matters one iota.
I mean where are his qualifications at running a football club on a day-to-day basis? He doesn’t bloody have any. This is an appointment of bewildering proportions. That is, until you delve a little deeper.
Let’s be honest, you don’t need to delve that deeply. Peter Lim is the majority shareholder of Valencia FC. Lim was rated number eight on Forbes magazine’s list of Singapore’s top 50 richest people. Lim is an avid sports fan and owns 50% of Salford City FC, which is also owned by Phil Neville, Gary Neville, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. I guess you see where this is going now?
Potential Car Crash
Nepotism rules the world and sometimes there is no point trying to jump aboard the rollercoaster of life because you just weren’t invited. Oh, I mean, unless your Daddy, or metaphorical Daddy, owns the rollercoaster. Gary and Phil Neville have been handed the keys to the playroom by their “father.” No need to tidy up when you are finished boys, somebody else will be paid to take care of that.
Look, I’m viewing this situation with my usual slab of cynicism, and, boy, would I love them to be successful, but I just can’t see that happening. David Moyes has already tried it and cast aspersions on any future British coaches being viewed favourably. I just can’t get past this lack of experience.
And, throw the lack of language skills into the equation and we should have a veritable car crash situation in the offing. As a kid in English language class you were time and time again asked to compare and contrast various passages, poems and novels. (Surprisingly looking at this horror show in front of you, I did actually pass..didn’t cost me a great deal, to be honest.) I want to do that here.
With all the noise and guffawing surrounding Neville’s appointment this week, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbainks news flew under the radar.
Hasselbaink this morning was granted permission to talk to Queens Park Rangers. Or, more importantly, Burton Albion (Jimmy Floyd’s current employers) granted QPR permission to talk to their man.
Jimmy Floyd’s model of coaching and management is the template that all young coaches should be following. Forget this “Daddy” buying you a football club nonsense. Hasselbaink cut his teeth in the Belgian Second Division with Royal Antwerp. JFH spent a season there before being hired by Burton Albion FC in November 2014. JFH was a revelation.
The job he has done so far has been magnificent, but many people feel it is his time to progress to a bigger football club, and I thoroughly agree. JFH was a star in his own right as a player. He played for Holland at the World Cup and he won the Golden Boot twice in the Barclay’s Premier League to name but two of his achievements.
Jimmy’s Big Job
You almost think that he had the right to demand a “big” job when he embarked on his coaching/management career. JFH was not precious enough to believe this and his words as he took over at Burton Albion are a breath of fresh air in the world of pampered millionaires:
“I’m not too proud to work at this level, it’s still the same game. Ok, the standard might be a bit different, but I love football because of the passion, whatever the level.” Mike Walters (Mirror newspaper) wrote a few words at the time a great deal more eloquently than I can muster:
“To find Hasselbaink calling the tune at the ends of the earth in League Two is like Tom Jones forsaking Las Vegas for the green, green grass of home and playing a gig at Pontypool town hall.”
The afore-mentioned words are exactly the point. Whoever you were in your playing career should hold no weight the minute you hang your boots up. You have now returned to the apprentice who needs to learn a second trade. Yes, the sport is the same, but you are now not able to cross the white line. Your destiny lies in the hands of the men you coach, buy and mould: so learn that craft well.
JFH has taken Burton Albion from League Two in England to their current position at the summit of League One. Burton are in League One for the first time in their history. JFH has done a sterling job and as you read this he has possibly been employed as the manager of Queens Park Rangers in the Championship. Hasselbaink’s progression has been steady, but sure. His career as a manager is still in its infancy and he has many long years ahead of him.
I hope that Gary Neville and his silver-spooned career at Valencia are successful. I fear it won’t be and feel that maybe then he should return to England and learn his craft away from billionaire partners and the nepotism that is no replacement for experience.