This season seems destined to be remembered for two storylines. One is Leicester City’s unlikely rise to the top of the Premier League, the other Jose Mourinho’s demise at Chelsea. While it’s wonderful to see the plucky Foxes maintaining their excellent form, it can’t match the melodrama of Mourinho’s final months at Stamford Bridge. It was captivating to see one of the world’s greatest managers try and fail at every turn to halt the club from unravelling.
Likewise, it’s been fascinating to see Gary Neville turn his hand to management. Feted for his footballing brain and lauded as a coach and a pundit, the former full-back suddenly seems worryingly short of ideas.
Taking over one of Spain’s biggest clubs without the ability to speak the language was always going to be a tall order. But even Gary Neville would never have anticipated failing to win a league match within his first two months at the club. Many of the club’s fans were sceptical of his appointment in the first place considering his friendship with the club’s owner, and the poor run of results have given the fans little reason to re-evaluate his suitability for the job. It is hard not to root for the England coach, but it’s going to be an uphill task for Neville to return Valencia into the reckoning for the Champions league places by the end of the season.
Moreover, if he doesn’t last that long, Alan Shearer will be able to testify how an unsuccessful spell as a manager doesn’t help your credentials as a pundit either.