Gary Neville has gone from Valencia and all we have is the realisation that Valencia can forever be known as 'Neville's Old Boys' (Mikey Traynor wants the credit for that joke and he is entitled to it).
For headline writers and 'content producers,' that is no small thing to leave behind as a legacy.
Gary Neville's dwindling band of haters are already in jeering mode, and inclined to regard him as a kind of football equivalent of George Lee. Perhaps on his return Sky Sports will downgrade him to whatever is their equivalent of agricultural correspondent.
— Sky Sports News HQ (@SkySportsNewsHQ) March 30, 2016
Graham Hunter spoke to him today and subsequently spoke to Off the Ball. Hunter is serenely confident that this debacle will not damage Neville's future prospects as a manager.
Why? Because sensitive and thoughtful chairman will appreciate that he was left with a squad of 'gutless, cowardly players'.
I would be genuinely surprised if it's damaging to any serious, thoughtful club that might want to hire him. I think that these are special circumstances. Given that he's been dealing with overpaid, gutless, cowardly footballers. And given that he's been dealing with a squad put together by an agent with a special interest, George Mendes. Given that he's been brave enough to work in a foreign language, there are many kneejerk people in the world who'll say 'that's your fault'.
I've spoken briefly with Gary this afternoon where he's spoken about recognising he's made some mistakes. But let me be clear, he inherited extraordinary problems that were avoidable before he was appointed... Valencia have got really deep-rooted problems.
There are a cocktail of extreme circumstances here. It's a club whereby the summer prior to this summer, they were put together very, very quickly...
In many of the problems at Valencia, Hunter sees the malign influence of agent George Mendes, who controls an enormous of players in the club.
When you've got a squad when it's very predominantly controlled by one agent, I'm not going to call him a super agent because I don't think he is, you will get, in situations of extremis, players who consciously or subconsciously think 'if I down tools for a bit, my agent will still be there, I'll still be there, and the manager will be gone'.