The absence of Neville, whose brother Gary was sacked as first-team coach on Wednesday, had not been announced in advance despite the new coach, Pako Ayestarán, holding a press conference the day before. It came as a surprise when he was not among the travelling party, casting doubt on his future at the club.
Neville joined Valencia as assistant coach in the summer and had been an integral part of the technical staff under his brother and his predecessor Nuno Espírito Santo, taking up his place on the bench for every game. He is not expected to sit in the dugout again this season. He will continue to work with the first team day to day at the club’s Paterna training ground – for now, at least.
Gary Neville’s other assistant coach, Miguel Ángel Angulo, was also sacked on Wednesday but his brother continued at the club. Phil Neville arrived at Valencia before Gary Neville and there was no direct indication that his role would change after his brother’s departure.
Ayestarán noted that Neville had a “long-term contract” at the club and said he had “no problem” with him. But the next day Neville was left out of the trip to Las Palmas. Jose Viela and David Caneda, Ayestarán’s newly appointed assistants, who had been expected to work with Neville rather than in place of him, did travel.
Neville’s absence retrospectively brought into focus a comment made by Ayestarán at his presentation, which had not originally been interpreted as a threat to the Englishman. He had said: “We have come to realise that we do not need a large technical staff. It is good to bring together [varied] opinions but we need to pick a path and be clear.”
On Thursday neither Ayestarán nor the club’s president, Layhoon Chan, had said Phil Neville would not travel with the team nor given any indication that his role would change.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010