Neville: It felt like Valverde was toying with me, like I was a little puppet

The ex-Valencia coach revealed how he struggled against Ernesto Valverde

Neville, en su etapa valencianista
Neville, en su etapa valencianista | AFP

Fomer Valencia manager Gary Neville says Ernesto Valverde played with him like a "puppet" during his brief spell in charge of the La Liga club. 

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Neville lasted just four months at Valencia and has admitted several times since being sacked that he was out of his depth at Mestalla. 

Speaking to the Sky Sports podcast, the ex-Manchester United defender revealed how he struggled against much better-prepared managers, including ex-Barça coach Valverde, who was at Athletic Club at the time, and Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone. 

"Valverde went on to manage Barcelona but I faced him when he was at Athletic," Neville said. "He changed his system three times over the course of the game and he was always one step in front of me. 

"It felt like he was toying with me, like I was a little puppet. I could feel it on the touchline. That's what inexperience feels like."

The Englishman also spoke about Simeone's qualities, although he was disappointed that the Argentine didn't shake hands after their game. 

"I felt like he was slowly strangling me," Neville added. "He tortured me in football terms for 90 minutes. At the end of the game, I went to shake hands, but he went right passed me. I didn't like that. He didn't show any respect." 

Neville also spoke about not being prepared for the Valencia job: "The last thing the club needed was a coach without experience. The players were not happy and I should have taken big decisions. 

"I promised myself that I would never weaken myself as a coach again. I lost confidence. I didn't even want to go to training. I did not adapt. I did not prepare. Despite that, I loved the challenge, the city and the fact I threw myself into it." 

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