Valencia owner Peter Lim has hailed the appointment of Gary Neville as an interim manager at the club, saying he did not pick the Manchester United legend based on their friendship. The Singapore tycoon, however, refused to be drawn on whether Neville could remain in the job past the end of the season, or if he was just a short-term fix following the dismissal of Nuno Espirito Santo.
The La Liga side surprised all concerned when they gave Neville his first managerial role earlier this month. Some in Spain questioned the appointment due to his lack of experience, his decision to combine the role with his position as England manager and, most notably, because he was a close pal of the owner.
But speaking with the club's official website in his first interview since taking control of Valencia one year ago, Lim explained: "I think the decision to change the coach is never a happy one. It is a necessity. Given the situation, first I picked Gary not because he is a good friend; Gary is a good coach, who happened to be a friend.
"I think that has to be very clear to everyone. I look at him, he has got the potential in him, I knew him for a while and his football knowledge is tremendous. He is top pundit in the UK. I chose him because of his knowledge of football and everything that is around football.
"So as interim manager for the rest of the season, I think that it suits me and I think it will suit the club very well to have him see through the period, and we'll take it from there. That is how I look at it."
Neville endured a baptism of fire in his debut as Valencia boss, being knocked out of the Champions League following a 2-0 defeat against Lyon. He has also failed to win a game in La Liga so far, drawing against both against Eibar and Getafe, but did secure a Copa Del Rey victory over Barakaldo to make the next round of the competition.
But Lim said: "I am very confident about him, itthe only shortfall is maybe the language. But I believe he can overcome it, because he is a very determined person. More important is his experience, not only as a manager but his playing days, I think he can hold this team together.
"We have a very young team. I think, because we were playing so well last year, everybody forgets that our team is a very young team. I know a lot of people say 'oh no, he has never been a coach,' but I do believe that he has got the ability to become a good coach. He has been an assistant coach with England, and also when he was at Manchester United he was always playing a very important role as a captain. It's common knowledge that Sir Alex Ferguson passed him a lot of training in managing players".