MADRID (AP) — Spanish club Valencia has fired coach Gary Neville less than four months after hiring the former England defender.

The club made the announcement on Wednesday, nine days after it lost its third game in a row in the Spanish league.

"After careful consideration, the club decided to make a change with the best interests of the Valencia CF moving forward this season," it said in statement. "We thank Gary for his work at Valencia and wish him the best in the future."

Valencia also released a message from Neville.

"I would like to thank Valencia Football Club, the fans, staff and the players," he said. "I would have liked to have continued the work I started but understand that we are in a results business and in the 28 games they have not been to my standards or to those which are required by this club."

Valencia won only 10 games under Neville, drawing seven and losing the other 11.

The club said assistant coach Pako Ayestaran will take over the squad until the end of the season. Ayestaran had been with Valencia as an assistant from 2001-04, when it won two Spanish league titles and a UEFA Cup trophy.

He later became an assistant coach with Liverpool, helping the English club win the 2005 Champions League and the 2006 FA Cup. He then worked as head coach for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel and Santos Laguna and Estudiantes Tecos in Mexico.

Neville was in his first head-coaching job. He spent much of his post-Manchester United playing career as a TV pundit before taking the part-time coaching role with England in 2012. He is expected to rejoin the England squad ahead of the upcoming European Championship in France.

Neville leaves Valencia 14th in the Spanish league standings, only six points above relegation zone.

After Neville took over in December, Valencia went 12 games without a win in the Spanish league. It won two in a row in February, but earned only one other victory after that.

The team has lost three consecutive league games and was eliminated by Spanish rival Athletic Bilbao in the round of 16 of the Europa League. The latest loss was at home to Celta Vigo on Sunday, and before that it had been defeated at last-place Levante.

Valencia's next game is at Las Palmas, which is only one point behind the club in the Spanish league.

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