MADRID (Reuters) – Stuttering Valencia have made a second key appointment in as many months by bringing back Jesus Garcia Pitarch as sporting director to work with new coach Gary Neville.
Garcia Pitarch, 52, played for the La Liga club between 1982 and 1985 and was sporting director between 2002 and 2004 when Valencia won La Liga and the UEFA Cup under Rafa Benitez, sacked as Real Madrid coach this month.
He was sporting director at Atletico Madrid when they won the Europa League and the European Super Cup in 2010 and has also worked at Hercules and Real Zaragoza in Spain and Baniyas in the United Arab Emirates.
Garcia Pitarch will join Neville, whose brother Phil is an assistant coach, with the ambitious Singapore-owned club struggling in La Liga but still alive in both the Europa League and the King’s Cup.
Gary Neville, a former Manchester United and England defender and a business partner of owner Peter Lim, replaced sacked Portuguese Nuno Espirito Santo and has a contract until the end of the season.
Valencia, who have not had a sporting director since Francisco Rufete left last year, were beaten 2-0 at Real Sociedad in La Liga on Sunday and are 11th at the halfway stage of the campaign.
They take a 4-0 lead into Thursday’s King’s Cup last 16, second leg at Granada and play the first leg of their Europa League last 32 tie at home to Rapid Vienna on Feb. 18.
“Gary Neville is our coach and we have to get behind him and the players,” Garcia Pitarch told a news conference on Wednesday. “It’s not the time to be talking about whether he will carry on (after the end of the season).”
Neville told a news conference previewing the Granada game that he wanted more consistency from the team.
“It’s very important that we bounce back quickly, it was a setback at the weekend,” he added.
“We have a good lead in the tie but this is not the time to be complacent.
“It’s time to be professional, it’s time to put in a very good performance and show ourselves and the fans that we can respond to disappointments.”
Valencia host strugglers Rayo Vallecano in La Liga on Sunday.
(Writing by Iain Rogers, editing by Toby Davis)