Gary Neville’s appointment as Valencia manager this week was a real shock to me, but when you really think about it, it’s a necessity if he is to one day manage England.
He might be assistant to Roy Hodgson for the Three Lions, but the FA simply wouldn’t give him the main gig without some sort of first-hand managerial experience.
And while I assume taking charge of his country would be his long-term aim, this move looks absolutely the right one to make.
Some have made a lot of the fact that his contract at the La Liga club is only until the end of the season, speculating that he could be thrust into the England hot-seat straight after the Euros, but I’m not so sure.
I think the fact that his contract is until the end of the current campaign is less to do with England and more for both parties to keep their options open.
Neville has no experience of club management, so it might be risky for the club to give him a three or four-year contract.
He might come to the conclusion that club management isn’t for him, or the club might decide that he isn’t the man they want to take them forward after a year in charge.
This short-term deal just allows both sides to have a look at things and assess the situation before making any permanent plans.
Under normal circumstances when a manager is given a job until the end of the season, especially in this country, it only seems to work one of two ways.
Either the man in temporary charge does fantastically well and is handed it long term, or he’s simply there just to keep the seat warm for someone else to come in at the end of the campaign and take over.
This situation looks totally different to me. The club are desperate for a return to the success of the past that they achieved under the likes of Rafa Benitez, and have six months to see whether Neville is the man to do it.
For Gary and Valencia alike, this looks a no-lose situation.
He will obviously have the support of his brother at the Mestalla, who, like Gary’s appointment, surprised me at first when joining the club.
But you only had to look at who owns Valencia to realise that it made complete sense, with Peter Lim holding stakes in both the Spanish club and Salford City.
It won’t just be a case of who you know though. The owners put their money into the club, and they obviously have faith that both Gary and Phil Neville can do an excellent job there.
Listening to Gary talking on Sky Sports, and it’s obvious he knows his football, but this will be a whole new ball game, and will really test his mettle.
The Nevilles’ move out to Spain seems to be going against the grain in recent years, with foreign managers coming into Britain happening far more often than the Brits moving to the continent.
A lot of that will be down to the language barrier. With English being widely spoken across Europe and the wider world, it is far easier for managers to come here than it is for UK managers to move to Spain or Germany and speak the language straight away.
It will be tough for Neville to be one of those that does just that, but he has said that he is going to try and become fluent as soon as he can and is there to embrace the tradition of the club.
Having a former player as one of his assistants will certainly help him bed into the mindset of the team and can only be a good thing as he takes his first steps into club management.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £50 in free bets.