Gary Neville has been sacked by Valencia after just 120 days on the job. Naturally, he has received criticism for his embarrassingly brief reign — both from Valencia fans and his former colleagues in the media — but one man has largely flown under the radar in all this. And that man is Gary’s brother and assistant at Valencia, Phil Neville. The black widow of football management.
If a house burns down and then another house the next town over goes up in flames twice in short succession and one person is spotted at the scene all three times, it’s only natural to be a bit suspicious of that person. Phil Neville has now been an assistant to three consecutive managers who have lasted less than one full season with him on their staff.
At Man United, he served under his former manager at Everton, David Moyes, who lasted just nine months into a six-year contract before getting sacked.
At the start of this season, Phil Neville moved to Valencia to join Nuno’s staff. Nuno led Valencia to a fourth place finish and won three La Liga Manager of the Month awards in his first season, but with Phil Neville at his side, he lasted just three months into this season.
Instead of getting his own chance at the Valencia job, Phil had to watch as it was handed to his inexperienced older brother Gary, who swooped in and claimed it for himself. Phil stayed on to work under his brother and Gary ended up with the briefest tenure of all three of Phil’s bosses.
Now this could all be one big coincidence or it could be evidence of Phil Neville being the bitter and conniving Frank Underwood in professional football’s House of Cards, whose lack of upward mobility only leads to more and more destruction.
Could these three men have suffered similar fates because Phil betrayed their trust and sabotaged their careers in failed attempts to further his own? How many of the bad decisions attributed to them were originally whispered in their ear by Phil Neville? Will anyone else dare to hire him as their assistant after all this? Was Phil the true mastermind behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy? Is anyone who simply sits next to him doomed, even if it’s just on a plane or at a restaurant? There are so many questions and so few answers.
All we know for sure is: Beware Phil Neville, assistant to disaster.