Valencia need hard work to turn around form, says Gary Neville
Valencia coach Gary Neville says his team are capable of beating Real Madrid in Sunday's La Liga clash at Mestalla.
Neville has had a tough start to his coaching career in La Liga, with Thursday's 0-1 defeat at Villarreal meaning his side have taken just two points from his first three games in charge.
Madrid are also struggling for their best form at the moment, with fans again whistling under pressure Blancos coach Rafa Benitez during Wednesday's slightly fortunate 3-1 win at home to Real Sociedad.
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Looking forward to Sunday evening's high-profile meeting of two huge former Premier League names, the Englishman told his news conference after the Villarreal game that his team were improving and had a "great opportunity" to beat Madrid.
"It is not a final, but it's a big important match, playing against Real Madrid is always an important match," Neville said. "Today was a key match too, the same three points are up for grabs. I watched Madrid yesterday, have watched them a lot. We have them coming to Mestalla. I have told the players in the changing room that if we can carry over that second 45 minutes, and play for 90 minutes like that against Real Madrid, then we'll be fine.
"Real Madrid have players capable of winning any match, but so have we. If we play like we did in the second half, we have a great opportunity."
The former Manchester United defender faced Benitez's teams many times during the time the Spaniard was at Anfield from 2004 to 2010. However, Neville said his experiences from those games against that "rigid" Liverpool would be of limited use considering this Madrid have a much more "flowing" style.
"It is a very, very different Rafa Benitez team than the one he had at Liverpool," he said. "They were a very good team also, but a lot more rigid in how they played, although with some great individuals. Madrid against Sociedad yesterday was reflective of what Real Madrid are, they have fantastic match-winners in the team, and they play a very flowing style of football. The lessons of playing a Benitez team in the past will not help or hinder me on Sunday."
Asked if he thought the turning of the new year would bring better luck for his side, who have now not won in eight La Liga or Champions League outings, Neville replied that "hard work" not "superstition" was required to turn things around.
"I don't know about 'new year, new life,'" he said. "I believe in routine, habits, preparation. I stopped believing in superstition a few weeks ago. The idea that the year changes from a five to a six and all of a sudden we are now better, I don't believe in that. I just believe in the fact that we are working hard -- with an improvement in the second half.
"In the first half we were more compact today, and played some good football in the second half, the next bit is scoring goals and they will come if we play like we did today. The performance today was far better than Eibar or Getafe."
Neville said he had no immediate plans to move into the January transfer market -- and would wait until injured players returned before assessing what the squad might need to improve.
"Just because we lost a game I am not going to jump straight into the transfer market," he said. "I have five or six players returning in the next two or three weeks. When the squad is back to full fitness, at that point it is time for me to assess if it needs strengthening. Now when we have five or six fantastic players waiting to come back in. That's where we are at at the moment. We will score goals if we play like we did in the second half."