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Exclusive: Mendieta defends Man Utd hero Neville over Valencia flop

Gaizka Mendieta insists Gary Neville could've been successful at Valencia if the circumstances were different.

Neville was appointed as manager of the Spanish club in December 2015, with his brother Phil becoming his assistant after previously serving as caretaker manager.

The decision to hire Neville came as a shock in Spain as the Manchester United legend had never managed before - he was an assistant for England at the time - and didn't speak the language.

Neville is a close associate with Valencia owner Peter Lim, who is his co-owner at Salford City, along with some of his former Manchester United teammates.

It was a rough start for Neville after his first game in charge ended in a 2-0 defeat to Lyon at the Mestalla, knocking the club out of the Champions League.

And it didn't get any better from there, with just three wins in four months resulting in Neville's dismissal on March 30 2016. Los Che were sitting in 14th in the league, only six points clear of the relegation zone.

The 45-year-old has since admitted he made a mistake taking the job and vowed never to return to management.

Asked by if Neville's stint was always doomed to fail, Valencia legend Mendieta replied: "Well, I was bit surprised that Gary Neville was appointed as a manager as he didn't have much experience in Spain, in La Liga and he didn't speak the language either.

"He did have his brother there but it's always difficult to go to coach in a new country that you don't know really well. I think he admitted afterwards it was something he should have thought about more…or been advised better…before taking that decision.

"Of course, it's not always a case of these situations failing. It's happened before that managers have moved countries and been successful.

"Gary Neville could have been successful if he didn't have the circumstances that were there when he went to Valencia."

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Will McCarthy

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