‘Relief’ for Gary Neville after first Valencia win

‘Hopefully we’ll push on from this and get more confident. That’s what I want’

Gary Neville admitted he was relieved after picking up his first league win as Valencia manager but insisted it will not be a night for celebration.

Denis Cheryshev’s diving header gave Valencia a nail-biting 2-1 victory over struggling Espanyol, who had taken the lead early in the second half after an error from returning goalkeeper Diego Alves allowed Oscar Duarte to head home.

Substitute Alvaro Negredo levelled on 70 minutes with the help of a deflection from Duarte, and Valencia held on in the remaining quarter of an hour after Cheryshev gave them the lead for the first time in 10 league matches under Neville.

“I think what the game tells us today is football isn’t about putting on the best performance, but today we got the result,” said Neville.

“It’s not a night for any celebration whatsoever, not to get carried away. We’ll gain some confidence from the result. There’s a good feeling from the dressing room and we’ll take things forward.

“Relief’s probably a good word in some ways to describe what I felt. The last four minutes can be a long time in football at the end of a game. I wanted the final whistle to come as quickly as possible. I saw the reaction of the fans, of the players. I think it [10 games without a win] is far too long for this club.”

Neville also praised the Mestalla faithful for their support throughout the game.

“The most incredible bit was the fans stayed with us, they stayed with every single player, they stayed with me,” said Neville.

“It’s not down to tactics, it’s not down to the coach, it’s down to the fans and the way they responded after the goal. The game turned into an emotional game, the fans were pushing us forward, throwing us forward. We suffered a little bit but got there in the end and that’s the important thing.”

Neville also announced that Pako Ayesteran, Rafael Benitez's former assistant coach at Valencia and Liverpool, is to join his coaching staff with immediate effect.

“He’s not to replace current staff, I just wanted to bring in someone with experience alongside me. Please don’t interpret this as a problem in any way. I’ve been speaking to Paco for the last 10 days.”

And the former Manchester United defender said he hoped his team will grow in confidence and strength now they have got their first league win under their belt.

“Hopefully we’ll push on from this and get more confident. That’s what I want, that’s what I hope for,” he said.

“In terms of media and fan reaction, they are well within their rights to say what they’ve been saying. I’d be saying them as a journalist, as a fan. I’m not expecting to be shielded or protected. I thrive on it. From my point of view I know I’m in a fight.”