So Gary Neville has coached Valencia CF for over two weeks now, since taking over he has presided over one loss to Lyon in the Champions league, two draws in the league and one win in the cup. Modest results, if you can even call them that, more on the weak side, but he has also barely got enough time to start working and even if he would have won all games so far, it wouldn't be his contribution, so the poor results so far under him are not at a fault of his own.
Any coach taking over in the midst of the season would encounter big challenges and would require at least a month to start implementing his ideas and tactics and ultimately you need a long term plan and long term objectives and a coach can only be ultimately judged at the end of the season. So Gary Neville still has two more week of grace period, the honeymoon period where he can try stuff out and avoid any consequences and pressure for any poor results.
With all that out of the way has Gary Neville's Valencia CF team started to show any sort of improvements or positives over the previous Valencia CF, are there any seeds being planted for better future play? The short answer is yes, sort of. We can clearly see from the overall gameplay and the statistics that in the past three matches Valencia CF is slowly starting to get more possession, this could of course be a statistical error, just because of the small number of games, but the way the team has started to position and move has some changes to be able to conclude that things are shifting.
Now I don't think we can safely say if the seeds being planet are going to ultimate improve the team, but its certain that we are seeing some small changes that have taken small effect in the last 3 matches.
Personally my biggest issue right now is the defense. Valencia CF has been unable to keep a clean sheet in the league since 31st October in the 3-0 win over Levante. So basically almost 2 months without a clean sheet, where the team has conceded at least one goal in the net. This is simply unacceptable for any top team, if Valencia CF is serious about fighting for a Champions league spot the defense needs to improve. What this entails is another matter, do the midfields need to cover back more, do the wingers need to play more defensive, do we use only 1 attacking full back, while have one sit back to cover better in defense, these are all questions that need to answered and decided tactically. Is it simply that our defenders suck at an individual level? I don't believe so, these are all very good defenders, though some consistency and improvements are needed. Aymen especially has been really poor for us, in fact every time I've written a match report with him in defense, I've rated him lower because I haven't felt his defensive contribution was on a good enough level.
The one big issue that I've already written before, few times in fact is that the team doesn't move as one. There are just huge gaps between defense, midfield and attack. Each of these positions feels separate, it feels as if we only have 4 in defense, only have 3 in midfield, only have 3 in attack and they are all against 6-7-8, sometimes even more players. The biggest reason why we can't control the midfield and have more possession is because there are only 3 players in midfield and only 1(Parejo) can properly retain and control possession, while the opposition moves together in force and overwhelms our midfield and other positions.
When Valencia CF is attacking, all of the players need to move in unison, the defense needs to come forth all the way until the midfield line, the attackers, expect the main one(Paco) need to also fall back a bit and then constantly move back and forth. Whoever the winger is needs to always move, they need to come back, possibly take the ball for a pass, return the pass, move forward and see if they can get in good position, if not move back, then repeat.
Right now the divide between the positions, between the players is too big, so we get overrun in each position. We just don't have enough players concentrated in a certain area. I think Gary Neville gets this, after all he has been an analyst in England, doing a great job, he's a proven winner as a player, has a decent assistant manager career and has trained under one of the best coaches in history Alex Ferguson. So I think Gary knows this and will be slowly addressing the problem in the upcoming weeks, trying to fuse the team together and make them play more as one unit, more as a collective.
Tell us what you think about Gary Neville's work with Valencia CF so far, how do you think its going and do you see any positive changes in the team play so far, no matter how small they are?