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Neville upbeat despite latest Valencia stumble

Neville upbeat despite latest Valencia stumble

MADRID (Reuters) – Valencia coach Gary Neville called his side’s first-half performance “unacceptable” after they were held to a 2-2 draw at home to Rayo Vallecano in La Liga on Sunday but said he was confident they could turn things around soon.

Neville is still without a win in six Spanish top flight games in charge since taking over from the sacked Nuno Espirito Santo last month and Valencia are stuck down in 10th place after four draws and two defeats during the former Manchester United and England defender’s tenure.

The ambitious Singapore-owned club are in danger of missing out on a berth in continental competition for 2016-17 and are eight points adrift of the European places with just over half the season played.

“It’s hard to explain what happened in the first half, it was a very disappointing performance,” Neville told a news conference after Valencia twice had to come from behind to rescue a point at the Mestalla.

“In football you have to win and enjoy yourself and we didn’t show any of that,” added the 40-year-old. “We have to correct this immediately.”

Valencia, who last won La Liga in 2004 under Rafa Benitez, are struggling in their domestic league but still have a chance of silverware in the Europa League and the King’s Cup.

They play Las Palmas home and away in the quarter-finals of the Spanish Cup this month and the first leg of their Europa League tie against Rapid Vienna is at the Mestalla on Feb. 18.

Neville, whose contract runs until the end of the season, said there were two positives from Sunday’s setback, which prompted whistling from disgruntled home fans:

“Our response in the second half and the fact that the players showed a will to fight,” he said.

“I have confidence in the work that we are undertaking and I agree that the results aren’t what we had hoped for.

“It isn’t due to a lack of effort from the players. We’ve got a point, we will carry on working tomorrow and I’m sure that if we apply ourselves as we did in the second half we will get more points.”

(Writing by Iain Rogers, editing by Martyn Herman)

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