- Associated Press - Thursday, December 3, 2015

VALENCIA, Spain (AP) - Unveiled as Valencia’s new manager, Gary Neville wants to test himself as a coach after earning a reputation as one of England’s best football minds as a pundit following a brilliant playing career.

The former Manchester United and England defender said on Thursday at his presentation that it was time “to stand up.”

“I have been offered other jobs in football over the last four, five years, but the timing never felt right,” Neville said. “But when I received the call on Sunday evening, I thought, ‘What a football club, what an opportunity, what a challenge.’ Sitting on television talking about coaches for the last few years, the time has come for me to stand up. This is a wonderful club. If I had turned down this job I could have said goodbye to my credibility.”

When asked what Gary Neville-the-pundit would say about the signing of Gary Neville-the-coach, he didn’t shy away from admitting that he would have to call it risky.

“I would question it as a neutral observer,” he said. “I would be skeptical and want to be proved otherwise, and I have to say that I understand I have to prove myself to Valencia’s fans and, most importantly, to its players.”

The 40-year-old Neville will be aided by younger brother Phil, who also played for United and joined Valencia last year as an assistant under former manager Nuno Espirito Santo. Besides helping his brother get familiar with the club, Phil has learned Spanish, and will help communication with the players.

“If Phil wasn’t here, I would want him here,” Neville said. “He is diligent, hardworking, and talented.”

The siblings, along with other former United players, are also business partners with Valencia owner Peter Lim in non-league club Salford City in England.

Even though Neville signed a contract only until the end of the season, he said his family would be moving “permanently” to the Mediterranean city.

“I will make no decision in the next months that won’t be for the long term,” he said, adding that he is looking for a Spanish teacher “willing to get up at six in the morning” to give him classes before training.

Neville will begin his first head managing job on Sunday, a day after he observes how his new players fare against European and Spanish champions Barcelona under interim coach Salvador Gonzalez. Neville is Valencia’s sixth manager since Unai Emery left in 2012.

Valencia and Espirito Santo split “by mutual agreement” following its 1-0 loss at Sevilla last weekend that left the team in ninth place in the league standings.

Neville has very little time to settle in.

His first match will be against Lyon on Wednesday, when Valencia needs to win to keep alive its hope of advancing to the Champions League knockout rounds.

Valencia’s fans are among the most demanding in Spain, nostalgic for the league trophies won under Rafa Benitez more than 10 years ago.

Neville, who visited Valencia’s training grounds with club president Layhoon Chan before his presentation, has the support of his new players.

“We are waiting for Gary Neville to see what ideas he has so we can try and adopt them quickly,” defender Jose Gaya said. “Phil has told us some of the ideas he has. He will be a coach that is personable, and who will try to get the best out of us. We are thrilled.”

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