Thursday, 17 March 2016

Valencia v Athletic Bilbao - Preview

Gary Neville insists he can handle the pressure but has made it clear his side need to ``deliver'' in Thursday's Europa League home clash with Athletic Bilbao.

Neville's position with Los Che continues to be under intense scrutiny after Sunday's 1-0 Primera Division loss at rock-bottom derby rivals Levante, which he branded ``unacceptable'' and was their third straight defeat in all competitions.

With Valencia currently 12th in the league table and their Copa del Rey campaign having ended in the semi-finals, the Europa League would appear their only realistic route left if they are going to achieve success this term.

They lost the first leg of their last-16 tie with fellow Spanish outfit Athletic 1-0 last week.

And ahead of their attempt to turn things around at the Mestalla, Neville - who also has international commitments to worry about as part of the England coaching team - said: ``I have no problem with anything that has been said in these last few days. I expected it.

``I don't want it, but I have been in football a long time and when you have a performance like that and you play like that (against Levante), you cannot defend (it).

``I understand the fans' anger - they should be angry and I accept this completely. I said this on Sunday after the game - that we have to accept any criticism that comes our way.

``Do I find it harder to work under the pressure?

``I have been in these types of situation - not as a head coach maybe, but as a player and as an assistant coach working with England, I have been in this type of situation before where it has been very difficult and I have been surrounded by these types of moment.

``I don't feel destabilised by the fact we are working under this level of pressure.

``But if we don't deliver, then we know the circumstances, we know the outcome, we know what is going to be said.''

Neville's men host an Athletic side who are six places above them in the Primera Division and on a five-game winning streak in all competitions.

Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde told Marca: ``For us it is a final. There is a team that will be left out, and we do not want it to be us.

``They may be under more pressure because they are further back than they thought, but that should not affect us - we have the same amount of enthusiasm as them.''

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