Phil Neville
Former Everton and Manchester United star Phil Neville joined Valencia's coaching staff in the summer Getty Images

Valencia assistant coach Phil Neville is expecting a tough test against Spanish and European champions Barcelona on 5 December. Valencia are ninth in La Liga after 13 matches and have won just two of their last six matches across all competitions.

Neville's brother Gary will watch his new team from the stands of the Mestalla after he was surprisingly unveiled as the head coach of the Spanish club until the end of the season on 2 December. Former Everton player Phil will take charge of the team alongside fellow coach Salvador Gonzalez for the visit of the Catalan giants before handing over the reins to Gary.

Speaking ahead of the match, Neville said he was looking forward to pitting his wits against Barca's treble-winning coach Luis Enrique. "There's no expectation. We're going to make sure we out there and perform," Neville was quoted as saying by Catalan daily Sport.

"We [must] show the fans who have supported us this week that we are ready to compete against Barcelona. From a personal point of view, these are the types of occasions you look to when you're taking your coaching badges – pitting your wits against the best. There's no one better than Barcelona."

Gary Neville
Gary Neville was officially unveiled as Valencia's new head coach on 3 December Reuters

The ex-England international added: "Tomorrow when I'm in the dugout, it will be a brilliant experience and one that I'm really looking forward to. I hope the game goes well and we show the type of form and credentials and potential that we've got, and hopefully we get the right result."

Leadership qualities

Meanwhile, Gary Neville has been backed to succeed in management by Sir Alex Ferguson. Ferguson managed Neville through his entire playing career at Manchester United and spoke glowingly of the leadership qualities of his former protégé.

"I think Gary has all the qualities required to be a success. He's not afraid to make decisions. He knows his own mind," Ferguson told the Daily Mirror. "Leadership matters, whatever industry you're in - some people are leaders, some aren't. Gary has that ability to lead and, most importantly, he won't be afraid of the challenge he's taking on."

Gary Neville's first match as head coach of Valencia is a do-or-die Champions League showdown against Lyon at the Mestalla on 9 December.