From Me to You: Why are the Neville Brothers So Bad at Football Management?

Between them, Gary and Phil Neville earned 144 caps for England, won 14 Premier League titles and got their hands on the Champions League trophy on three occasions. They are, undoubtedly, among the most decorated brothers to ever lace up their boots.

It’s widely accepted that good players don’t always make the best managers, and the Nevilles have proven that in spades in a pair of calamitous moves into the world of coaching.

Gary’s first foray into management was ill-timed and ill-advised - Valencia, who he took over, are owned by a close personal friend, Peter Lim, and the former Manchester United full-back was always likely to be dogged by claims of nepotism. The fact that he didn’t speak a word of Spanish also didn’t help and, as we will find out later in this article, Neville’s reign in Spain was doomed from the outset.

As for Phil, he has taken a more circuitous journey into management. A respected coach in England’s youth set up, his first stint at the top job came with the English women’s team, who he led to the title at the 2019 SheBelieves Cup.

But the younger Neville brother would also be tainted by the ‘nepotist’ tag in his next role as head coach of MLS side Inter Miami, who just so happen to be owned by his old United teammate David Beckham.

And the rest, as they say, is history. Investing heavily in global stars like Gonzalo Higuain and Blaise Matuidi, Neville has been unable to find the winning formula in Florida, and they find themselves in last place in the Supporters’ Shield standings - between May 22 and July 21, they lost six straight games too.

While there is still plenty of time left in the campaign, football betting sites like Space Casino make Inter Miami a 50/1 to win the MLS Cup. For the layman, that basically means the bookies are giving Neville a 2% chance of turning things around.

At least he still has time on his side. For Gary, hopes of a long-lasting career in football management are already dead in the water….

The Reign in Spain

Comfortably ensconced in the Sky Sports studio, Neville had no intention of stepping into management.

But his friend Lim had a problem. His former manager at Valencia, Nuno Espirito Santo, had resigned, and he needed a replacement as soon as possible.

It was rumoured that the club was facing a perilous financial situation, and so Neville agreed to take over despite his better judgement. His initial reluctance would later prove to be justified.

Valencia didn’t win in Neville’s first ten games at the helm and, as well as being dumped out of the Europa League, they suffered a humiliating 0-7 defeat to Barcelona in the Copa del Rey.

A managerial novice, Neville was quoted in the Independent.co.uk as admitting to being ‘outsmarted’ by his opposite number in the dugout, and his lack of experience showed as he tried several different tactical systems and formations without any success.

With three wins in sixteen games in charge, Neville - who took over at the Mestalla in December 2015, was relieved of his duties in March of the following year. He has not returned to management since.