Gary Neville warned his Valencia players pre-Celta Vigo “anything less than Thursday is unacceptable” as “we need fighters like Ayala and Albelda”.
Valencia bowed out of the Europa League to Athletic Bilbao in the last 16 midweek, but they were only eliminated on away goals after a 2-1 win in the second leg, and Neville felt the standard had been set, while of the opinion his side still had plenty to play for.
“It was a night filled with disappointment for me, but I actually enjoyed the game and that’s what I told the players,” he said at a Press conference before Sunday’s La Liga game.
“It was my idea of a performance and I’m sure it was theirs. They’ve needed to play with more intensity and higher pressure, but on Thursday they showed what they were capable of and set the standard.
“I think all teams need to have a certain mindset and that includes Valencia.
“We all have a lot to fight for. We showed on Thursday that, despite the disappointment, the fans could enjoy themselves.
“We still have a lot to play for. I won’t accept anything less than what was seen on Thursday.
“Why? Because we played at a higher level than at any point previously. For me, we must play every minute of every game like we did on Thursday.
“Surely if we don’t beat Celta then we’ll see the fire burn…
“I was offered a five-month contract and moved with my family, but I’m only thinking about the next nine games.
“Results haven’t been good enough, and we have to think about nine games and repeat what we did on Thursday.
“The game against Celta is very difficult, but I want to approach it like Thursday, we can repeat that game. I want consistency.
“It’s disappointing not to have staged a title tilt, but it would be a bigger mistake to think that we have nothing to fight for.
“[On why it’s taken Valencia three months to adopt his philosophy], three months isn’t a long time, especially when you can’t train as you’d like with games every three days.
“If I came here in preseason, I’d have had 12 months to work with the squad.
“It’s been a huge calendar, but it’s not an excuse because we wanted to be in all the competitions.
“Since I’ve been here, I’ve wanted that Valencia to be horrible for their opponents.
“We need fighters like [Roberto] Ayala and [David] Albelda. Anything less than Thursday is unacceptable, and the fans deserve it.
“[On the fans wanting a new Coach], the fans have the right to express an opinion.
“They’re the most important thing to the club and they’ll always be here when all we’re gone.
“I’m giving it my all and I feel their support. On Thursday, after the defeat against Levante, they came, pushed the team on and supported me.
“All I can ask is that they support the team and I, and if we play as we did on Thursday, that criticism will disappear.”
“Any team below 42 or 40 points have a lot to fight for, and we need many, many more points.”